Friday, August 1, 2008

George Birkbeck Norman Hill

George Birkbeck Norman Hill

George Birkbeck Norman Hill (June 7, 1835 - February 24, 1903), English editor and author, son of Arthur Hill, headmaster of Bruce Castle school, was born at Tottenham, Middlesex. He dropped his third name, Norman, publishing as just George Birkbeck Hill; to family and friends he was known as Birkbeck, not as George. Arthur Hill, with his brothers Rowland Hill, the postal reformer and Matthew Davenport Hill, afterwards recorder of Birmingham had worked out a system of education which was to exclude compulsion of any kind. The school at Bruce Castle, of which Arthur Hill was head master, was founded to carry into execution their theories, known as the Hazelwood system, after Hazelwood School, Birmingham, that preceded it. George Birkbeck Hill was educated in his father's school and at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he made lasting friendships with Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris. It was also at Oxford that he began his writing career, contributing articles to William Fulford's Oxford and Cambridge Magazine. HIll suffered a serious attack of typhoid fever in 1856 which left him in a delicate state of health. Consequently, he only received an 'honorary' fourth class degree in 1858, although he was later awarded a Bachelor of Civil Law in 1866 and a Doctor of Civil Law in 1871 in recognition of his contribution to English letters. In 1858 Hill began to teach at Bruce Castle school, and from 1868 to 1877 was headmaster. He married Annie Scott, the sister of a friend from his schooldays, on 29 December 1858. Partly to relieve what he felt to be the tedium of running the school, Hill returned to writing and reviewing. In 1869, he became a regular contributor to the Saturday Review, with which he remained in connection until 1884. On his retirement from teaching he devoted himself to the study of English 18th century literature, and established his reputation as the most learned commentator on the works of Samuel Johnson. Remaining true to his family's radical roots, Hill was a strong supporter of the Liberal Party and actively campaigned on behalf of Gladstone in the mid 1880s. He settled at Oxford in 1887, but from 1891 onwards his winters were usually spent abroad for his health. He died at Hampstead, London

[Life Of Johnson Vol 2 | Life Of Johnson Vol 3]

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