Journals Higher Education

The Works of George Savile, Marquis of Halifax

Volume II


Edited by Mark N. Brown

Oxford English Texts

'Why Halifax, who wrote so well, wrote so little, is hard to explain', commented James Sutherland in his 1969 volume of the Oxford History of English Literature, in which the informal elegance of the author's expression is said to mark 'the culminating point of Restoration prose'. An important figure in the politics of his time, Halifax is increasingly seen as an important literary figure as well. This is the first complete edition of his works to make use of all sixty-one available manuscripts. Of his thirty works, seventeen are being published for the first time, having lain unnoticed for two centuries among family papers. They increase fourfold the extent of Halifax's writings as edited for the Oxford English Texts by Sir Walter Raleigh in 1912. The remaining pieces are based upon a comparison of all known manuscript copies and early printed editions, including two previously unknown holographs. The effect is to revise and deepen our understanding of Halifax in ways that are crucial to understanding his political motivation, as well as to invite further research into the character and intellect of a man described by Hume as possessing 'the finest genius and most extensive capacity' of the politicians in the reign of Charles II.

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