Henry Morley

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Henry Morley, circa 1888 Henry Morley.jpg
Henry Morley, circa 1888

Henry Morley (15 September 1822 – 1894) was an English academic who was one of the earliest professors of English literature in Great Britain. Morley wrote a popular book containing biographies of famous English writers.



The son of apothecary Henry Morley, the younger Morley was born in Hatton Garden, London. He was educated at a Moravian Church school in Neuwied, Germany and entered King's College London 1838. Morley graduated in 1843 and became part of the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, a professional organization, that same year.

Apothecary historical name for a medical professional now called a pharmacist

Apothecary is one term for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses materia medica to physicians, surgeons, and patients. The modern pharmacist has taken over this role. In some languages and regions, the word "apothecary" is still used to refer to a retail pharmacy or a pharmacist who owns one. Apothecaries' investigation of herbal and chemical ingredients was a precursor to the modern sciences of chemistry and pharmacology.

Hatton Garden Street and area in London, England

Hatton Garden is a street and commercial area in the Holborn district of the London Borough of Camden, close to the boundary with the City of London. It takes its name from Sir Christopher Hatton, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, who established a mansion here and gained possession of the garden and orchard of Ely Place, the London seat of the Bishops of Ely. It remained in the Hatton family and was built up as a stylish residential development in the reign of King Charles II.

Moravian Church Protestant Christian denomination dating back to 15th century

The Moravian Church, formally named the Unitas Fratrum, in German known as [Herrnhuter] Brüdergemeine, is one of the oldest Protestant denominations in the world, with its heritage dating back to the Bohemian Reformation in the 15th century and the Unity of the Brethren established in the Kingdom of Bohemia.

Morley bought into an apothecary practice in Madeley, Shropshire, but it turned into a financial failure. In 1848, he established a school in Manchester and started writing in his spare time. Morley wrote some satirical articles that were published and gained the attention of Charles Dickens.

Madeley, Shropshire town and civil parish in Shropshire, England, now part of the new town of Telford

Madeley is a town and civil parish in Shropshire, England, now part of the new town of Telford. The parish had a population of 17,935 at the 2001 census.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous built-up area, with a population of 3.2 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

Charles Dickens English writer and social critic

Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the 20th century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories are still widely read today.

At Dickens' invitation, Morley moved to London in 1850 to become an editor of and a contributor to Dickens' publication, Household Words . When that publication dissolved, Morley worked for its successor, All the Year Round . From 1859 to 1864, Morley also edited and wrote for The Examiner .

<i>Household Words</i> English weekly magazine edited by Charles Dickens in the 1850s

Household Words was an English weekly magazine edited by Charles Dickens in the 1850s. It took its name from the line in Shakespeare's Henry V: "Familiar in his mouth as household words."

<i>All the Year Round</i> book by Charles Dickens

All the Year Round was a Victorian periodical, being a British weekly literary magazine founded and owned by Charles Dickens, published between 1859 and 1895 throughout the United Kingdom. Edited by Dickens, it was the direct successor to his previous publication Household Words, abandoned due to differences with his former publisher.

The Examiner was a weekly paper founded by Leigh and John Hunt in 1808. For the first fifty years it was a leading intellectual journal expounding radical principles, but from 1865 it repeatedly changed hands and political allegiance, resulting in a rapid decline in readership and loss of purpose.

From 1865 to 1889, Morley served as professor of English literature at University College London, his students including the Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore. Noted for his knowledge of English literature, Morley was considered to be an engaging and warm teacher. He also delivered popular lectures on literature in different parts of Great Britain.

University College London, which has operated under the official name of UCL since 2005, is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom. It is a constituent college of the federal University of London, and is the third largest university in the United Kingdom by total enrolment, and the largest by postgraduate enrolment.

Rabindranath Tagore Bengali poet and philosopher

Rabindranath Tagore, and also known by his sobriquets Gurudev, Kabiguru, and Biswakabi, was a Bengali polymath, poet, musician, and artist from the Indian subcontinent. He reshaped Bengali literature and music, as well as Indian art with Contextual Modernism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Author of the "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse" of Gitanjali, he became in 1913 the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tagore's poetic songs were viewed as spiritual and mercurial; however, his "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal. He is sometimes referred to as "the Bard of Bengal".

From 1882 to 1889, Morley was principal of University Hall, a research library in Bloomsbury, London. [1]

Morley's biography was written by Henry Shaen Solly.

Morley died on 14 May 1894 in Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight and is buried at Carisbrooke Cemetery.


Morley was the editor of two book series. Morley's Universal Library, [2] drawing on the concept of a universal library, was published from 1883 by George Routledge. Cassell's National Library was published from 1886, totalling 209 weekly editions.

Morley was the author of biographies on Bernard Palissy, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, Gerolamo Cardano and Clément Marot. He also wrote introductions to two books written by John Locke—the 1884 edition of "Two Treatises of Government" and the 1889 edition of "A Letter Concerning Toleration".

Morley's principal work, however, was English Writers (10 volumes 1864-94), coming down to William Shakespeare. His First Sketch of English Literaturethe study for the larger workhad reached at his death a circulation of 34,000 copies.

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  1. J. R. Howard Roberts and Walter H. Godfrey (editors) (1949). "University Hall (Dr. Williams' Library), Gordon Square". Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 18 June 2012.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  2. Morley's Universal Library (George Routledge) - Book Series List, publishinghistory.com. Retrieved 24 June 2018.

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature . London: J. M. Dent & Sons via Wikisource.