Edward Gibbon, an English historian and member of Parilament in the 18th century, is most known for his six volume work The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. This work is still highly regarded by both historians and critics, over 200 years after its publication.
Giobbon was born in Putney, Surrey, in 1737, the only surviving child of his parents Edward and Judith Gibbon. He was sickly child and was eventually sent away to Westiminster School, where he first began to read and take a liking to literature. At 15, he attended Magdalen College and learned quickly he was not the scholarly type. However, while attending Oxford, Gibbon converted to Roman Catholicism and immediately after left Oxford to move to Switzerland. Just two years later, after his father threatened to take his inheritance away, Gibbon re-converted to Protestantism.
In 1758, at the age of 21, Edward Gibbon returned to England and published his first book, which distinguished him amongst his peers and brought his name to prominence in the area. He had several literary failures afterwards until he published The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire from 1776-1788.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Emprire is an explanation for the fall of the Roman Empire. One of the reasons Gibbon’s book has stayed known throughout history is because it is one of the first pieces of works that uses sources to trace back and write about history. This book is known for its critical view of Christianity and Gibbon received a lot of criticism for it at the time. Gibbon is known as one of the sons of the Enlightenment, having openly criticized the religious Dark Ages.
We have several rare editions of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, including one from the Library of Andrew Dickson White (Diplomat and Educator who founded Cornell University). We also have a first edition of Gibbon’s Memoirs and Writings, titled Miscellaneous Works With Memoirs of His Life and Writings: Composed Himself.
Although The History was met with praise and made Gibbon one of the leaders of the literary community in Europe, Edward Gibbon was not happy. Following his completion of The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Gibbon fell into a deep depression and physical anguish. He died in 1794 of Peritonitis at the young age of 56. View all of our works by Edward Gibbon here.