George Henry Lewes (18 April 1817 – 30 November 1878) was an English philosopher and critic of literature and theatre. He became part of the mid-Victorian ferment of ideas which encouraged discussion of Darwinism, positivism, and religious scepticism. However, he is perhaps best known today for having openly lived with George Eliot, as soulmates whose life and writings were enriched by their friendship, despite never marrying.
Lewes, born in London, was the illegitimate son of the minor poet John Lee Lewes and Elizabeth Ashweek, and the grandson of comic actor Charles Lee Lewes. His mother married a retired sea captain when he was six. Frequent changes of home meant he was educated in London, Jersey, Brittany, and finally at Dr Charles Burney's school in Greenwich. Having abandoned successively a commercial and a medical career, he seriously thought of becoming an actor and appeared several times on stage between 1841 and 1850. Finally he devoted himself to literature, science and philosophy.
As early as 1836, he belonged to a club formed for the study of philosophy, and had sketched out a physiological treatment of the philosophy of the Scottish school. Two years later he went to Germany, probably with the intention of studying philosophy.
He became friends with James Henry Leigh Hunt, and through him, he entered London literary society and met John Stuart Mill, Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens.
In 1841, he married Agnes Jervis, daughter of Swynfen Stevens Jervis...
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