A critical study of the literary works of J.A. Froude with special reference to the novels, the essays and the biography of Carlyle
James Anthony Froude (l8l8-94) was one of the most prolific, versatile and controversial writers of his age. An early work, The Nemesis of Faith (l849), a fascinating novel of faith and doubt, was publicly burnt during a lecture at Oxford. His History of England from the Fall of Volsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada (1856-70) earned its uncompromisingly Protestant author a popularity which rivalled that of Macaulay. His Short Studies on Great Subjects (1st series, 1867) contains some of his most provocative essays on theological, philosophical and political topics, many of which had previously appeared in journals such as Fraser's Magazine which Froude edited from l86l to 1874. As Carlyle's literary executor and authorised biographer, Froude wrote what has been referred to as the first modern biography : when it appeared in 1882-84 it provoked a storm of controversy even more virulent than that occasioned by his study of the Irish problem in The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century (1872-74). Shortly before he was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford, Froude travelled widely (partly as an official Government representative), and his experiences are vividly recorded in works such as Oceana (l886), an engaging if partisan portrayal of life in the colonies. The picture which emerges from a reading of his works is of an interesting, intelligent and accomplished author. However, Froude has been curiously Lgnored by critics of nineteenth-century literature. Few of his works are in print, and although a number of articles and two biographies have been written about him, a book considering his literary achievement has yet to appear. It is my contention that he has been unjustly neglected. The significance of his works is two-fold. First, they are interesting in terms of their art. In his mature writings Froude's handling of narrative and his prose style are especially impressive. Secondly (and perhaps more importantly) his works are of great interest to the student of Victorian ideas for the light they shed on a whole range of issues and questions which preoccupied many of Froude's contemporaries. In this thesis I examine the thought and art of Froude's literary productions. The opening chapter provides a broad overview of his published works including his historical writings and his travel books. Successive chapters deal in some detail with his four novels (the two short novels published under the title Shadows of the Clouds, The Nemesis of Faith and The Two Chiefs of Dunboy), a selection of his essays and literary criticism, and his biography of Carlyle and the controversy which surrounded it. These texts (and especially the Carlyle biography), the most interesting and important of his works, are considered both as literary artefacts and as documents of value to the historian of ideas. The critical reception each work enjoyed is discussed where appropriate. In the conclusion I define and evaluate the precise nature of Froude's contribution to English letters.