Biography and History

Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh was an English critic and essayist. In 1885, Raleigh went to India, having been appointed as the first professor of English literature at Aligarh Muslim University. In 1889, he was appointed Professor of Modern Literature at University College, Liverpool, and he began to write The English Novel (his first novel), Robert Louis Stevenson: An Essay, and Style. He was Clark Lecturer in English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1899, and incorporated his lectures into his book Milton. By 1900, he was winning recognition as the most original and stimulating of the younger critics. In June 1904, Raleigh became the first holder of the new Chair of English Literature at Oxford with a fellowship at Magdalen College. The school of English Language and Literature began its steady development with Raleigh's appointment. In October 1914, when his Oxford professorship was reconstituted as the Merton Chair of English Literature, he became a fellow of Merton College. After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Raleigh stopped writing literary criticism. The war occupied his thoughts for the rest of his life. In 1915, he went to the United States in order to deliver two lectures about England and the War at Princeton University. He found a new interest in his lectures at Oxford after 1918, when men who had fought in the war crowded to hear him. In July 1918, he accepted the invitation of the Air Ministry to write the official history of the Royal Air Force, The War in the Air, although he only managed to complete the first volume before his death.

Source: From the finding aid for C1182