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About the Author: Matthew Gregory Lewis

Matthew Gregory Lewis was an English novelist and dramatist, often referred to as "Monk" Lewis, because of the success of his classic Gothic novel, The Monk.

Matthew Gregory Lewis was the firstborn child of Matthew and Frances Maria Sewell Lewis. His father, Matthew Lewis was the son of William Lewis and Jane Gregory. He was born in Jamaica in 1750. He attended Westminster School before proceeding to Christ Church, Oxford where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1769 and his master’s in 1772. That same year, he was appointed as the Chief Clerk in the War Office. The following year, Lewis married Frances Maria Sewell, a young woman who was very popular at court. She was the third daughter born to Sir Thomas Sewell and was one of eight children born in his first marriage. Her family, like Lewis’, had connections with Jamaica. As a child, she spent her time in Ottershaw. In December 1775, in addition to his post as the Chief Clerk in the War Office, Lewis became the Deputy-Secretary at War. With one exception, he was the first to hold both positions at that same time (and earning both incomes). Lewis owned considerable property in Jamaica, within four miles of Savanna-la-Mer, or Savanna-la-Mar, which was hit by a devastating earthquake and hurricane in 1779. His son would later inherit this property.

In addition to Matthew Gregory Lewis, Matthew and Frances had three other children: Maria, Barrington, and Sophia Elizabeth. On 23 July 1781, when Matthew was six and his youngest sister was one and a half years old, Frances left her husband, taking the music master, Samuel Harrison, as her lover. During their estrangement, Frances lived under a different name, Langley, in order to hide her location from her husband. He still, however, knew her whereabouts. On 3 July 1782, Frances gave birth to a child. That same day, hearing of the birth, her estranged husband returned. Afterwards, he began to arrange a legal separation from his wife. After formally accusing his wife of adultery through the Consistory Court of the Bishop of London on 27 February 1783, he petitioned the House of Lords for permission to bring about a bill of divorce. However, as these bills were rarely granted, it was rejected when brought to voting. Consequently, Matthew and Frances remained married until his death in 1812. Frances, though withdrawing from society and temporarily moving to France, was always supported financially by her husband and then later, her son. She later returned to London and then finally finished her days at Leatherhead, rejoining society and even becoming a lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Wales. Frances and her son remained quite close, with her taking on the responsibility of helping him with his literary career. She even became a published author, much to her son’s dislike.

Matthew Gregory Lewis began his education at a preparatory school under Reverend Dr. John Fountain, Dean of York at Maryleborne Seminary, a friend of both the Lewis and Sewell families. Here, Lewis learned Latin, Greek, French, writing, arithmetic, drawing, dancing, and fencing. Throughout the school day, he and his classmates were only permitted to converse in French. Like many of his classmates, Lewis used the Maryleborne Seminary as a stepping stone, proceeding from there to the Westminster School, like his father, at age eight. Here, he acted in the Town Boys’ Play as Falconbridge in King John and then My Lord Duke in High Life Below Stairs. Later, again like his father, he began studying at Christ Church, Oxford on 27 April 1790 at the age of fifteen. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 1794. He later earned a master's degree from the same school in 1797.


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The Monk Cover Image

Find the best price forThe Monk

Goodreads rating: 3.79

Paperback, Published in Mar 2016 by Oxford University Press

ISBN10: 0198704453 | ISBN13: 9780198704454

Page count: 432

'He was deaf to the murmurs of conscience, and resolved to satisfy his desires at any price.'
The Monk (1796) is a sensational story of temptation and depravity, a masterpiece of Gothic fiction and the first horror novel in English literature. The respected monk Ambrosio, the Abbot of a Capuchin monastery in Madrid, is overwhelmed with desire for a young girl; once having abandoned his monastic vows he begins a terrible descent into immorality and violence. His appalling fall from grace embraces blasphemy, black magic, torture, rape, and murder, and places his very soul in jeopardy.
Lewis's extraordinary tale drew on folklore, legendary ghost stories, and contemporary dread inspired by the terrors of the French Revolution. Its excesses shocked the reading public and it was condemned as obscene. The novel continues to beguile and shock readers today with its gruesome catalogue of iniquities, while at the same time giving a profound insight into the deep anxieties experienced by British citizens during one of the most turbulent periods in the nation's history.
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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