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Dictionary of World Biography
(from *Boccaccio), The Siege of Thebes (intended to be
a supplement to The Canterbury Tales by *Chaucer,
his acknowledged master), and a drearily prolix
allegory,The Pilgrimage of Man (translated from the
French). The satirical London Lickpenny, a shorter
poem, gives a lively picture of the contemporary scene.
Pearsall, D. A., John Lydgate. 1970.
Lydia of Thyatira (fl. c.50 CE). Greek merchant and
convert. A trader in purple, she met *Paul and *Silas
in Philippi, offered them hospitality and was the first
named Christian convert in Europe (Acts 16:14–15).
Lyell, Sir Charles, 1st Baronet (1797–1875).
Scottish geologist. A barrister, from 1827 he
devoted himself to geology. After investigatory
tours in Europe (1824 and 1828–30), he published
Principles of Geology (3 volumes, 1830–33), which
had immense influence on the development of
the science. Equally important was The Geological
Evidences of the Antiquity of Man (1863) which gave
powerful support, from the evidence of a different
science, to *Darwin’s evolutionary theories. Further
publications (1845 and 1849) resulted from travels
in North America. Lyell was professor of geology at
King’s College, London 1832–33, President of the
Geological Society 1836, 1850 and President of the
British Association 1864.
Lyly, John (1553–1606). English dramatist and
novelist. His best known work is Euphues a romantic
‘novel’ in two parts (1578 and 1580). It is written in an
amusing but rather affected (‘euphuistic’) style, which
*Shakespeare both adopted and parodied in several of
his plays. His comedies were mostly written for troupes
of boy players and probably for this reason have more
delicacy and a gentler wit than others of the time.
Lyons, Joseph Aloysius (1879–1939). Australian
politician, born in Tasmania. Son of Irish immigrants,
he became a teacher, then a Tasmanian MP 1909–
29 and Premier of Tasmania 1923–28. Elected to
the Commonwealth Parliament in 1929, he was
Postmaster-General and Minister for Works 1929–
31 in the Labor Government of J. H. *Scullin. He
broke with Labor in 1931 following personal clashes
and policy differences with E. G. *Theodore about
combatting the Depression and, with the Nationalist
Party, formed the United Australia Party (U.A.P.), won
the 1931 election in a landslide and served as Prime
Minister of Australia 1932–39. Fearful of the prospect
of a World War, he was a despairing appeaser of
*Hitler’s aggression, faced a serious challenge from his
deputy, Robert *Menzies, and at Easter 1939, under
enormous stress, became the first Australian prime
minister to die in office. His wife, Dame Enid Muriel
Lyons (née Burnell) (1897–1981), was the first woman
member of the Commonwealth Parliament 1943–51
and the first woman minister 1949–51.
Henderson, A., Joseph Lyons: the People’s Prime
Minister. 2011.
Lysander (d.395 BCE). Spartan leader. He won
a crushing victory over the Athenian fleet at
Aegospotami (405), and in 404 took Athens,
thus ending the Peloponnesian War. By imposing
oligarchic regimes in the Greek city states, he secured
Spartan domination throughout Greece. He died
fighting in Boeotia, which had become restive under
the assertion of Spartan power.
Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich (1898–1976). Russian
biologist. He claimed that his experiments showed
that acquired characteristics could be inherited and
bolstered his presentation with ‘Marxist’ argument,
hoodwinking both *Stalin and *Khrushchev. He
persecuted the geneticist N.I. *Vavilov and was
attacked by J.B.S. *Haldane. His theory is at variance
with the genetics of *Mendel, and never found
support outside the Soviet Union. Even there it was
discredited after 1953, with some revival 1957–64.
Joravsky, D., The Lysenko Affair. 1971.
Lysimachus (c.662 BCE-281 BCE). Macedonian
general. One of the Diadoche (‘Successors’), generals
who fought for control of *Alexander the Great’s
empire on his death, he became King of Thrace, Asia
Minor and Macedonia. He was killed in the battle of
Corupedium by the forces of *Seleucus.
Lytton, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron
(1803–1873). English author and politician. Son of
a general, educated at Cambridge, he inherited the
Lytton estate, Knebworth, from his mother (1843)
and added her name to his father’s. He wrote furiously,
lived extravagantly, made many enemies, including
*Tennyson and *Thackeray, but was admired by
*Dickens and *Disraeli. He wrote 30 novels, mostly
on historical themes, including Eugene Aram (1832),
The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) and The Last of the
Barons (1843). MP 1831–41, 1852–66, he was
Colonial Secretary 1858–59.
His only son, Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton, 1st
Earl of Lytton (1831–1891), educated at Harrow
and Bonn, had an unremarkable career as a diplomat,
becoming Minister to Portugal 1872–76 until
unexpectedly chosen by Disraeli to be Viceroy of
India 1876–80. The unpopular Afghan War, which
he helped to provoke, led to Disraeli’s defeat (1880)
and his own removal. He became Ambassador to
France 1887–91. He wrote copious poetry, now
forgotten, under the name of ‘Owen Meredith’. He
called himself ‘a sensitive second rate poet’ (but he
was even less).