Sidney Lee

English biographer and critic

Sir Sidney Lee (5 December 18593 March 1926), born Solomon Lazarus Lee, was an English biographer and critic, and the second editor of the Dictionary of National Biography. He also wrote several works about William Shakespeare.


  • a purely literal interpretation of the impassioned protestations of affection for a "lovely boy", which course through the sonnets, casts a slur on the dignity of the poet's name which scarcely bears discussion
    • Shakespeare's Sonnets, Facsimile of the First Edition 1609, ed. S. Lee, 1905
  • I believe that the luxuriance of Shakespeare's dramatic instinct largely dominates that outburst of lyric melody which gives the Sonnets their life.
    • "The Impersonal Aspect of Shakespeare's Art" (English Association Leaflet, 13, July 1909)
  • Every great national literature is a fruit of much foreign sustenance and refreshment, however capable the national spirit may prove of mastering the foreign element.
    • "The French Renaissance in England" (1910), Preface
  • Discriminating brevity is a law of the right biographic method.
    • "Principles of Biography", 1911
  • Reading is a wrestling with ideas greater than any we can create for ourselves. It has been said, a little extravagantly, that reading can get the better of most physical sufferings, all indeed save the pangs of hunger.
    • "The Place of English Literature in the Modern University" (1913)
  • He had a splendid appetite at all times, and never toyed with his food
    • Of King Edward VII; "King Edward VII: a Biography", vol.2 (1927) p. 408

Dictionary of National Biography, art. "William Shakespeare"Edit

  • Shakespeare's relations with men and women of the court involved him at the outset in emotional conflicts, which form the subject-matter of his 'Sonnets'
  • Shakespeare avows, although in phraseology that is often cryptic, the experiences of his own heart

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