Matthew Lewis (writer)

English novelist and dramatist (1775–1818)

Matthew Gregory Lewis (9 July 1775 – 14 May 1818) was an English novelist, poet, playwright, translator and Member of Parliament. His novel The Monk, written at the age of 19, is an example of Gothic fiction, and led to his being commonly known as Monk Lewis.

Portarit of Matthew Gregory Lewis, by Henry William Pickersgill (1809)


  • Hark! hark! – What mean those yells – those cries?
    His chain some furious madman breaks!
    He comes! I see his glaring eyes!
    Now! now! my dungeon bars he shakes.
    Help! Help! He's gone! Oh! fearful woe,
    Such screams to hear – such sights to see!
    My brain! my brain! – I know, I know
    I am not mad, but soon shall be.
    • "The Captive"; cited from The Life and Correspondence of M. G. Lewis (London: Henry Colburn, 1839) vol. 1, pp. 239-40.
  • Farewel, thou cruel world! – to morrow
    No more thy scorn my heart shall tear: –
    The grave will shield the child of sorrow,
    And heaven will hear the orphan's prayer.
    • "The Orphan's Prayer", line 29; cited from Titus Strong (ed.) The Common Reader (Greenfield, Mass.: Denio & Phelps, 1819) p. 174.

The Monk (1796)Edit

Quotations are cited from Howard Anderson's edition (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990). For the 4th edition (1798), and some later ones, the title was changed to Ambrosio, or the Monk.

  • An Author, whether good or bad, or between both, is an Animal whom every body is privileged to attack; For though All are not able to write Books, all conceive themselves able to judge them.
    • p. 198.
  • Many of the narratives can only tend to excite ideas the worst calculated for a female breast: Every thing is called plainly and roundly by its name; and the annals of a Brothel would scarcely furnish a greater choice of indecent expressions. Yet this is the Book, which young Women are recommended to study.
    • p. 259.
  • A Warrior so bold, and a Virgin so bright
    Conversed, as They sat on the green:
    They gazed on each other with tender delight;
    Alonzo the Brave was the name of the Knight,
    The Maid's was the Fair Imogine.
    • p. 313; "Alonzo the Brave, and Fair Imogine", line 1.
  • "Oh! hush these suspicions," Fair Imogine said,
    "Offensive to Love and to me!
    For if ye be living, or if ye be dead,
    I swear by the Virgin, that none in your stead
    Shall Husband of Imogine be."
    • p. 313; "Alonzo the Brave, and Fair Imogine", line 11.
  • The worms, They crept in, and the worms, They crept out,
    And sported his eyes and his temples about,
    While the Spectre addressed Imogine.
    • p. 315; "Alonzo the Brave, and Fair Imogine", line 59.


  • Another Cleland see in Lewis rise.
    Why sleep the ministers of truth and law?
    Has the state no controul, no decent awe,
    While each with each in madd'ning orgies vie
    Pandars to lust and licens'd blasphemy?
    Can senates hear without a kindred rage?
    Oh may a poet's lightning blast the page,
    Nor with the bolt of Nemesis in vain
    Supply the laws, that wake not to restrain!
  • All hail, M. P.! from whose infernal brain
    Thin-sheeted phantoms glide, a grisly train;
    At whose command "grim women" throng in crowds,
    And kings of fire, of water, and of clouds,
    With "small gray men," "wild yagers," and what not,
    To crown with honour thee and Walter Scott;
    Again all hail! if tales like thine may please,
    St. Luke alone can vanquish the disease;
    Even Satan's self with thee might dread to dwell,
    And in thy skull discern a deeper hell.
  • He was a child, and a spoiled child, but a child of high imagination; and so he wasted himself on ghost-stories and German romances.
    • Walter Scott, manuscript note written in 1825; cited from J. G. Lockhart The Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart. (London: Adam and Charles Black, 1896) p. 81 col. 2.
  • Matthew Lewis [was] the genre's first punk, the Johnny Rotten of the Gothic novel.
    • Stephen King, in Matthew Lewis The Monk (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002) p. vi.

External linksEdit

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