Skip to main content

Stephen, Sir Leslie

Sir Leslie Stephen, 1832–1904, English author and critic. The first serious critic of the novel, he was also editor of the great Dictionary of National Biography from its beginning in 1882 until 1891. In 1859 he was ordained a minister. As a tutor at Cambridge his philosophical readings led him to skepticism, and later he relinquished his holy orders. He wrote several essays defending his agnostic position, notably Essays on Free Thinking and Plain Speaking (1873). He moved from Cambridge to London in 1864 and three years later married Harriet Marian, younger daughter of Thackeray. Some of the essays and sketches Stephen wrote for various periodicals were collected in Hours in a Library (1874–79). From 1871 to 1882 he was editor of Cornhill Magazine; during this time he encouraged such authors as Thomas Hardy, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Henry James. Throughout his life Stephen was a prominent athlete and mountaineer. He wrote numerous articles on the subject of mountain climbing, many of which were collected in The Playground of Europe (1871). His major works include History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century (1876); biographies of Johnson (1878), Pope (1880), Swift (1882), George Eliot (1902), and Hobbes (1904), all written for the "English Men of Letters" series; Science of Ethics (1882), which attempted to combine ethics with Darwin's theory of evolution; Studies of a Biographer (1898–1902); and The English Utilitarians (1900). Virginia Woolf was the younger of his two daughters by his second wife, Julia Jackson.

See biography by F. W. Maitland (1906, repr. 1968); studies by N. G. Annan (1951) and D. D. Zink (1972).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Stephen, Sir Leslie." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Nov. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Stephen, Sir Leslie." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stephen-sir-leslie

"Stephen, Sir Leslie." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/stephen-sir-leslie

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.