This commonplace book belonged to M. G. ("Monk") Lewis, a Romantic writer with ties to Jamaica who wrote the notorious Gothic
novel The Monk (1796). Contents are varied, ranging from jokes, observations, and songs to oriental tales literary excerpts.
Matthew Gregory ("Monk") Lewis (9 July 1775-16 May 1818) was a novelist, dramatist, poet, and from 1796-1802, an indifferent
MP. He is best known today for his novel The Monk (1796), though he was fairly prolific. Other successes during his lifetime include the play The Castle Spectre (1798), and a volume of poetry compiled with Walter Scott and Robert Southey, Tales of Wonder (1801). Lewis was educated at Christ Church, Oxford and traveled widely in Europe during his youth; he was well read in German
and French literature as well as English. Lewis had literary ambitions, and although the content of his works – often sensationally
crowd-pleasing and over-the-top – engendered controversy, his poetry was admired by the likes of Coleridge and Scott. At the
commencement of this commonplace book, he was about 26 and probably working on his verse drama, Alfonso, King of Castile. A decade and several publications later, when it was finally filled, he was winding down his theater career by adapting
his plays, The Wood Daemon and The East Indian, for presentation as operas, and working on the production of Timour the Tartar, his final, scandalously horse-filled, drama.
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