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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Meridith, George (1828-1909)
"When I was quite a boy I had a spasm of religion which lasted six weeks.... But I never since have swallowed the Christian fable."

"The man who has no mind of his own lends it to the priests."

-- George Meredith

George Meredith was an English novelist and poet.

He was born in Portsmouth, England, a son and grandson of naval outfitters. His mother died when he was five. At the age of 14 he was sent to a Moravian School in Neuwied, Germany where he remained for two years. He read law and was articled as a solicitor, but abandoned that profession for journalism and poetry shortly after marrying Mary Ellen Nicolls, a widowed daughter of Thomas Love Peacock in 1849. He was twenty-one years old; she was thirty.

He collected his early writings, first published in periodicals, into Poems, which was published to some acclaim in 1851. His wife left him and their five-year old son in 1858; she died three years later. Her departure was the inspiration for The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, his first "major novel".

He married Marie Vulliamy in 1864 and settled in Surrey. He continued writing novels, and later in life he returned to writing poetry, often inspired by nature. Oscar Wilde, in his dialogue The Decay Of Lying, implies that Meredith, along with Balzac, is his favourite novelist, saying "ah, Meredith! Who can define him? His style is chaos illumined by flashes of lightning."

As an advisor to publishers, Meredith is credited with helping Thomas Hardy start his literary career. Before his death, Meredith was honored from many corners: he succeeded Lord Tennyson as president of the Society of Authors; in 1905 he was appointed to the Order of Merit by King Edward VII.

In 1909 he died at home in Box Hill, Dorking.

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