Matthew Gregory Lewis, an English author, born in London, July 9, 1775, died at sea, while returning from Jamaica, May 14, 1818. He was educated at Christchurch, Oxford, and lived for some time in Germany, where he became imbued with the mysterious and tragic spirit which characterizes his writings. When but 16 years old he wrote "The East Indian, a Comedy." In 1795 appeared his romance "The Monk," the outline of which is taken from a story of the Santon Barsisa in the " Guardian." This at once became popular, and though he had obtained a seat in parliament, the society for the suppression of vice took steps to prosecute the author; but Lewis pledged himself to recall the printed copies and suppress the objectionable passages in future editions. In 1796 appeared "Village Virtues, a Drama," and in 1797 his " Castle Spectre" was acted for 60 nights. In 1798 he visited Edinburgh, and made the acquaintance of Sir Walter Scott, who contributed several ballads to the "Tales of Wonder" published by Lewis in 1801. On the death of his father he became possessed of considerable wealth, and plantations in Jamaica, which he twice visited.
Besides the works above named, he wrote a number of plays, among them "Ti-mour the Tartar" (1812), which had great influence in creating the taste for gorgeous pageants, and many poems, of which "Alonzo the Brave," "Durandarte," and "The Fair Imo-gene " are the best known. In 1834 appeared his " Journal of a West Indian Proprietor," and in 1839 his "Life and Correspondence" (2 vols. 8vo).