Lytton Strachey

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Giles Lytton Strachey (pronounced /ˈdʒaɪlz ˈlɪtən ˈstreɪtʃɪ/; 1 March 1880 – 21 January 1932) was a British writer and critic. He is best known for establishing a new form of biography in which psychological insight and sympathy are combined with irreverence and wit. His 1921 biography Queen Victoria was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.


Life and career


Strachey was born on 1 March 1880, at Stowey House, Clapham Common, London, the fifth son and the eleventh child of Lieutenant General Sir Richard Strachey, an officer in the colonial British armed forces, and his second wife, the former Jane Grant, who became a leading supporter of the women's suffrage movement. He was named "Giles Lytton" after an early sixteenth-century Gyles Strachey and the first Earl of Lytton, who had been a friend of Richard Strachey's when he was Viceroy of India in the late 1870s. The Earl of Lytton was also Lytton Strachey's godfather.[1] The Stracheys had thirteen children in total, ten of whom survived to adulthood, including Lytton's sister Dorothy Strachey.

When Lytton was four years old, the family moved from Stowey House to 69 Lancaster Gate, north of Kensington Gardens.[2] This would be their home until Sir Richard Strachey retired twenty years later.[3] Lady Strachey was an enthusiast for languages and literature, making her children perform their own plays and write verse from early ages. She thought that Lytton had potential to become a great artist so she decided that he would receive the best education possible in order to be "enlightened".[4] By 1887 he had begun the study of French, a culture he would admire during his entire life.[1]

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