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biographies Thomas More

Sir Thomas More was born in London in 1478, and died on Tower Hill in 1535,
along with Bishop John Fisher of Rochester. In 1935 he was canonized, along with
Fisher, as a martyr for the Catholic faith. Feast Day, June 22. Introductory
Note [Harvard Classics] The accompanying intimate account of the life of Sir
Thomas More by his son-in-law, William Roper, renders a biographical sketch
unnecessary. While More was a young law student in Lincoln's Inn, he is known to
have delivered in the church of St. Lawrence a course of lectures on Saint
Augustine's "City of God"; and some have supposed that it was this
that suggested to him the composition of the "Utopia." The book itself
was begun in Antwerp in 1515, when More was in Flanders engaged in negotiations
on behalf of the English wool merchants, and results of his observations among
the towns of the Low Countries are evident in some of the details of his
imaginary state. The framework seems to have been suggested by an incident
related in the narrative of the fourth voyage of Amerigo Vespucci, in whose
company Raphael Hythloday is represented as having sailed. In the elaborating of
his model society, More drew on Plato's "Republic" and on Saint
Augustine for a number of important features. But the work as a whole is the
outcome of the author's own political thinking and observation; though it is not
to be supposed that he believed in all the institutions and customs which he
describes. In ordinary intercourse, More was fond of a jest, and many, we are
told, found it hard to know when he spoke seriously. Much of this whimsical
humor is implicit in the "Utopia"; and while it contains elements in
which he had a firm belief, it is more than probable that much of it was in the
highest degree tentative, and some of it consciously paradoxical. In spite of
this uncertainty as to More's attitude, the influence of the book, both in
imaginative literature and in social theory, has been considerable; and it is
the ancestor of a long line of ideal commonwealths. Modern reformers are still
finding in its pages suggestions for the society of the future. The Life Of Sir
Thomas More In hoc signo vinces. ["In this sign, you will conquer"]
Forasmuch as Sir Thomas More, Knight sometime Lord Chancellor of England, a man
of singular virtue and of a clear unspotted conscience, (as witnesseth Erasmus),
more pure and white than the whitest snow, and of such an angelical wit, as
England, he saith, never had the like before, nor never shall again,
universally, as well in the laws of our Realm (a study in effect able to occupy
the whole life of a man) as in all other sciences, right well studied, was in
his days accounted a man worthy famous memory; I William Roper (though most
unworthy) his son-in-law by marriage of his eldest daughter, knowing no one man
that of him and of his doings understood so much as myself for that I was
continually resident in his house by the space of sixteen years and more,
thought it therefore my part to set forth such matters touching his life as I
could at this present call to remembrance. Among which very many notable things
not meet to have been forgotten, through negligence and long continuance of
time, are slipped out of my mind. Yet to the intent the same shall not all
utterly perish, I have at the desire of divers worshipful friends of mine,
though very far from the grace and worthiness of them, nevertheless as far forth
as my mean wit, memory and learning would serve me, declared so much thereof as
in my poor judgment seemed worthy to be remembered.

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Henrik Ibsen

Henrik Ibsen was born at Skien in Norway on March 20, 1828. When he was eight,
his father went bankrupt. This event made a deep impression upon him. After they
went bankrupt, his family moved to a small farm north of the town where they
lived in poverty. Henrik was forced to attend a small local school. He received
a substandard education. In 1843, the family returned to town. Unfortunately
they were still poor. Ibsen came from a very dysfunctional family. His
domineering father was an alcoholic who found solace in alcohol. His quiet
mother found comfort in religion. He used them as a model for his plays. The
blend of an overbearing husband and a submissive wife made appearances in his
plays Brand, A Doll's House, and Ghosts. The bitter character of Hjalmar Ekdal
in The Wild Duck was based on Ibsen's father. When he was sixteen, he moved to
Grimstad to work for a druggist. He had wanted to become a doctor, but game up
on the idea after he failed Greek and Math on his University entrance exams.
Medicine was not his only ambition. He also wanted to be a painter. In 1850,
Ibsen entered the first of his three writing periods. His romantic period went
from 1850 to 1873. The greatest works from this period are the Brandand Peer
Gynt Most of the plays that he wrote during these years are romantic historical
dramas. Lady Inger of Ostraat was a romantic drama with intrigue. The Vikings of
Helgeland was a simple and sad tragedy. The last play of the Romantic period was
Emperor and Galilean. It is similar to Ibsen's other play Catiline because it
showed his impatience with traditional attitudes and values. In both plays he
showed sympathy for historical characters who were famous for being rebellious.
Ibsen became the stage manager and playwright of the National Stage in Bergen in
1851. He worked there for six years. In 1857, he moved to Christiania (Oslo),
where he became director of the Norwegian Theatre. He neglected both writing and
the theatre. He plunged into social life with his literary friends and drank
heavily. In 1858, Ibsen married Suzannah Thoresen, with whom he had one child,
Sigurd Ibsen. This was a marriage that was often as misunderstood as the
marriages of Ibsen's dramas. At the age of thirty, Ibsen saw his first
performances of Shakespeare in Copenhagen and Dresden. Shakespeare's work
convinced Ibsen that serious drama must strive toward a psychological truth and
form its basis on the characters and conflicts of mankind. Ibsen and his friend
Bjшrnstjerne Bjшrnson founded "The Norwegian Company" in
1859. After the Norwegian Theatre went bankrupt in 1862, Ibsen was depressed and
broke. As a result, he was sometimes seen drunk on the streets of Christiania.
His success with The Pretenders in 1863 inspired him to write several poems.
Ibsen became bitterly disappointed with current political events, especially
Norway's failure to help the Danes in their war against Prussia. In 1864 he left
Norway. After he left, he spent most of his time in Rome, Dresden and Munich. He
was supported by a pension from the Norwegian state and income from his books.
In 1866, he had a significant breakthrough with his play Brand. In his speech to
Christiania students in 1874, Ibsen said, "All I have written, I have
mentally lived through. Partly I have written on that which only by glimpses,
and at my best moments, I have felt stirring vividly within me as something
great and beautiful. I have written on that which, so to speak, has stood higher
than my daily self. But I have also written on the opposite, on that which to
introspective contemplation appears as the dregs and sediments of one's own
nature. Yes, gentlemen, nobody can poetically present that to which he has not
to a certain degree and at least at times the model within himself." In
1877, Ibsen entered his second period of writing with his play Pillars of
Society. Ibsen wrote a series of plays dealing with social problems, such as A
Doll's House and Ghosts. He also wrote a series of plays dealing with
psychological problems, such as The Lady from the Seas and Hedda Gabler. He
wrote eight plays during of this period and both originated and perfected the
problem play. The term "problem play" refers specifically to the type
of drama which Ibsen wrote beginning with Pillars of Society in 1877. In these
plays, the emphasis is on the presentation of a social or ... more

biographies

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