Sir Leslie Stephen KCB (28 November 1832 – 22 February 1904) was an English author, critic, historian, biographer, and mountaineer, best known as the father of Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.
Stephen was born at Kensington Gore in London, the brother of James Fitzjames Stephen and son of Sir James Stephen. His family had belonged to the Clapham Sect, the early 19th century group of mainly evangelical Christian social reformers. At his father's house he saw a good deal of the Macaulays, James Spedding, Sir Henry Taylor and Nassau Senior. After studying at Eton College, King's College London and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. (20th wrangler) in 1854 and M.A. in 1857, Stephen remained for several years a fellow and tutor of his college. He recounted some of his experiences in a chapter in his Life of Fawcett as well as in some less formal Sketches from Cambridge: By a Don (1865). These sketches were reprinted from the Pall Mall Gazette, to the proprietor of which, George Smith, he had been introduced by his brother. It was at Smith's house at Hampstead that Stephen met his first wife, Harriet Marian (1840–1875), daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, with whom he had a daughter, Laura Makepeace Stephen (1870–1945). He and his daughter were cared for by his sister Caroline Emelia Stephen who was a writer, although Leslie described her as "Silly Milly" and her books as "little works"...
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