MORLEY, HENRY (1822-1894), British man of letters, was born in London on the 15th of September 1822. After unhappy experiences at English schools, he was sent to the Moravian school at Neuwied, whose system strongly influenced his subsequent theories of education. It was intended that he should follow his father's profession of medicine, and in 1844 he bought a share in a practice at Madeley, Shropshire. Plunged into debt by his partner's dishonesty, he set up a small school for young children at Liscard, near Liverpool. His principle was to abolish all punishment, to make his pupils regard their work as interesting instead of repellent, and to form their character by appealing exclusively to higher motives. This scheme, carried out with much ingenuity, proved a complete success. Meanwhile he had devoted his spare time to writing. His contributions to magazines attracted the notice of Charles Dickens, on whose invitation in 1851 he settled in London as a regular contributor to Household Words. He was also on the staff of the Examiner, which he edited from 1861 to 1867. Meanwhile he had devoted much research to a life of Palissy the Potter (1852), which was at the same time a picture of life in medieval France. Encouraged by its favourable reception, he followed it up with lives of Jerome Cardan (1854) and Cornelius Agrippa (1856), and subsequently of Clement Marot (1870). His dramatic criticisms were reprinted in 1866 under the title of The Journal of a London Playgoer, 1851-1866. In 1857 he was appointed evening lecturer in English literature at King's College, and in 1865 became, in succession to David Masson, professor of English literature at University College, London. His First Sketch of English Litera- ture (1873), a comprehensive and useful manual, reached its 34th thousand during the author's lifetime. He published in 1864 the first volume of a monumental history of English literature entitled English Writers, which he eventually carried in eleven volumes down to the death of Shakespeare. He was indefatigable as a popularizer of good literature. After editing a standard text of Addison's Spectator, he brought out a vast number of classics at low prices in Morley's Universal Library, Cassell's National Library, and the Carisbrooke Library. His ready speech, retentive memory, earnest purpose, and bright style made him perhaps the most popular lecturer of his day. His teaching work at University College was marked by equally extraordinary success. In 1882 he accepted a post that made great calls on his time and energy the principalship of University Hall. This institution was partly a place of residence for students of University College, and partly the home of Manchester New College. During this time he rendered further services to the cause of education in London not only by his work on the council of University College, but by his advocacy of a teaching university for London. In 1889 he resigned the principalship of University Hall and his professorship at University College, and retired to Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight, intending to devote his leisure to the completion of the great task of his life, English Writers. But with his work only half achieved he died on the 14th of May 1894.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)