Froude, James Anthony

Froude, James Anthony fro͞od [key], 1818–94, English historian. Educated at Oxford, he took deacon's orders after coming under the influence of the Oxford movement, but he later abandoned the path of Newman and became a skeptic. His record of this course in The Nemesis of Faith led to his resignation from an Oxford fellowship. He became an intimate friend of Thomas Carlyle, whom he greatly admired, and devoted himself to writing and lecturing. In 1872–73 he came to the United States and lectured on Irish questions, and later traveled in many parts of the British Empire. In 1892 he became regius professor of modern history at Oxford. His most important work is The History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada (12 vol., 1856–70). An indefatigable worker, Froude produced an almost incredible number volumes. Among his best-known works are Short Studies on Great Subjects (4 vol., 1867–82); The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century (3 vol., 1872–74); English Seamen in the Sixteenth Century (1892); several books on Carlyle and his wife; and biographies of Julius Caesar, Erasmus, and Disraeli. As literature, Froude's works are superb; his style is graceful and fluent, his opinions are competently and clearly expressed. As history, they leave much to be desired; his numerous prejudices color all his writing, and he was so prone to factual errors that the term “Froude's disease” came to be applied by some later historians to habitual inaccuracy. Nevertheless, his interest in social questions and his tireless curiosity concerning the past give the books value.

See biographies by H. Paul (1905) and J. Markus (2005); W. H. Dunn, Froude and Carlyle (1930).

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