Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Laurence Sterne Born

" Laurence Sterne was one of those few authors who have anticipated the labours of the biographer, 'and left to the world what they desired should be known of their family and their life.
" Roger Sterne (says this narrative,) grandson to Archbishop Sterne, lieutenant in Handaside's regiment, was married to Agnes Hebert, widow of a captain of a good family. Her family name was (I believe) Nuttle; though, upon recollection, that was the name of her father-in-law, who was a noted sutler in Flanders, in Queen Anne's wars, where my father married his wife's daughter (N. B. he was in debt to him) which was in September 25, 1711, old style. This Nuttle had a son by my grandmother—a fine person of a man, but a graceless whelp !—What became of him, I know not. The family (if any left) live now at Clonmel, in the south, of Ireland; at which town I was born, November 24, 1713, a few days after my mother arrived from Dunkirk...
 
The text above is from Sir Walter Scott's "Lives of the Novelists".  Laurence Sterne's birth ushered in the disbanding of father Roger's regiment, causing the family to return briefly to Yorkshire.  But, by 1715, the family returned to Ireland.  The Sterne's had a connection to higher education through great-grandfather Richard Sterne, who been Master of Jesus College in Cambridge, where Laurence studied, beginning in 1733.
 
Sterne's life was richer in preaching and politics than in writing, though "The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman" has become a classic.  Sterne died in 1768, after a long battle with consumption.

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