Mr and Mrs George Henry Lewes with Thornton Leigh Hunt

1 portrait of George Henry Lewes

Mr and Mrs George Henry Lewes with Thornton Leigh Hunt, by William Makepeace Thackeray,  - NPG 4686 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mr and Mrs George Henry Lewes with Thornton Leigh Hunt

by William Makepeace Thackeray
pencil
6 1/8 in. x 5 in. (155 mm x 127 mm)
Purchased, 1969
Primary Collection
NPG 4686


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The writer George Henry Lewes was attracted to many fields, most notably philosophy, physiology and drama, and made his living from journalism. He published his Biographical History of Philosophy in 1845-6, wrote two novels and, in 1850, joined Thornton Leigh Hunt in the running of the Leader. In 1840 he married Agnes Jervis. Fourteen years later he left his wife and children for Mary Ann Evans, a.k.a. George Eliot, with whom he lived until his death in 1878. This sketch by Thackeray shows Lewes singing together with his wife Agnes and Thornton Leigh Hunt, with whom the couple lived for a time.

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Events of 1850back to top

Current affairs

Cardinal Wiseman, a Catholic priest who had exerted a strong influence on the Oxford movement, is made a Cardinal and leader of the Catholic church in England, thus restoring Roman Catholic hierarchy in England.

Art and science

Death of poet laureate William Wordsworth; his great autobiographical poem The Prelude is published posthumously, famously charting the growth of the poet's mind. Tennyson's In Memoriam is also published. A poignant record of his grief over the death of his friend Arthur Hallam, the poem also movingly questions the strength of faith in an increasingly scientific age.

International

Up to 50,000 pioneers travel west in wagons on the Oregon trail in the United States, one of the main overland migration routes across the continent. Spanning over half the continent, the trail led 2,170 miles through territories and land which would later become six US states, including Kansas, Wyoming and Oregon, helping the US to implement its goal of Manifest Destiny - building a nation spanning the North American continent.

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