Symonds, John Addington

Symonds, John Addington

biographical name


Symonds, chalk drawing by C. Orsi; in the National Portrait Gallery, London—Courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery, London

(born Oct. 5, 1840, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Eng.—died April 19, 1893, Rome) English essayist, poet, and biographer. He traveled extensively for his health, finally settling in Switzerland. His chief work, Renaissance in Italy (1875–86), is a series of extended essays on cultural history. His writings include translations, travel sketches, several volumes of poetry, and studies of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ben Jonson, Sir Philip Sidney, Michelangelo, and Walt Whitman. A Problem in Greek Ethics (written 1871) and A Problem in Modern Ethics (1881) were among the first serious works treating homosexuality. His Memoirs (first published 1984) contains a frank account of his sexuality.

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