Thomas Henry Dyer - Encyclopedia




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THOMAS HENRY DYER (1804-1888), English historical and antiquarian writer, was born in London on the 4th of May 1804. He was originally intended for a business career, and for some time acted as clerk in a West India house; but finding his services no longer required after the passing of the Negro Emancipation Act, he decided to devote himself to literature. In 1850 he published the Life of Calvin, a conscientious and on the whole impartial work, though the character of Calvin is somewhat harshly drawn, and his influence in the religious world generally is insufficiently appreciated. Dyer's first historical work was the History of Modern Europe (1861-1864; 3rd ed. revised and continued to the end of the ,9th century, by A. Hassall, 1901), a meritorious compilation and storehouse of facts, but not very readable. The History of the City of Rome (1865) down to the end of the middle ages was followed by the History of the Kings of Rome (1868), which, upholding against the German school the general credibility of the account of early Roman history, given in Livy and other classical authors, was violently attacked by J. R. Seeley and the Saturday Review, as showing ignorance of the comparative method. More favourable opinions of the work were expressed by others, but it is generally agreed that the author's scholarship is defective and that his views are far too conservative. Roma Regalis (1872) and A Plea for Livy (1873) were written in reply to his critics. Dyer frequently visited Greece and Italy, and his topographical works are probably his best; amongst these mention may be made of Pompeii, its History, Buildings and Antiquities (1867, new ed. in Bohn's Illustrated Library), and Ancient Athens, its History, Topography and Remains (1873). His last publication was On Imitative Art (1882). He died at Bath on the 30th of January 1888.

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