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Laurence Sterne
Clonmel 24 Nov. 1713 - London 18 March 1768 British satirist and novelist

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Nearly all our information about the first forty-six years of Sterne's life before he became famous as the author of Tristram Shandy is derived from a short memoir jotted down by himself for the use of his daughter. This memoir gives nothing but the barest facts, excepting three anecdotes about his infancy, his school days and his marriage. Conversely, for the last eight years of his life, after the sudden leap out of obscurity caused by his literary success, we have a faithful record of Sterne's feelings and movements in letters to various persons (published in 1775 by his daughter, Lydia Sterne de Medalle) and in the 1766-1767 Letters from Yorick to Eliza (also published in 1775).

Laurence Sterne was the great-grandson of Richard Sterne, Archbishop of York and Master of Jesus College, Cambridge. Laurence's father, Roger Sterne, was a Yorkshire soldier who served as an officer in Flanders under the Duke of Marlborough during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714). His mother, Agnes, the widow of another English army officer, married Roger Sterne while he was on campaign in Dunkirk in 1711.

Laurence was born on 24 November 1713 at Clonmel, Co. Tipperary (Ireland),
where his father's regiment was stationed. Sterne spent his early childhood following the regiment's many transfers both in Ireland and England, and this close contact with military life would later inspire him for the creation of some of his most notable comic characters (especially Uncle Toby, Corporal Trim and Lieutenant Le Fever in Tristram Shandy).

In 1723, after ten years of wandering (Dublin, Devonshire, Isle of Wight, County Wicklow, Mullingar), Laurence was handed over to a relation in Elvington (Yorkshire), and sent to a grammar-school at Hipperholme, near Halifax, where he learned Latin and Greek. In 1727, Sterne's father was seriously wounded in a duel. He never fully recovered from the wound and died suddenly in March 1731 .

In July 1733, Sterne was admitted at Jesus College, Cambridge, where his great-grandfather (the Archbishop) had been master. He took his B.A. degree in 1736 and proceeded M.A. in 1740. In his last year, a haemorrhage of the lungs was the first sign of the consumption that was to trouble him for the rest of his life. (read on...)

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Part novel, part digression, this gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate 'hero' Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters.

Don Quixote
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, 1605 / 1615

A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy
'I have laid a plan for something new, quite out of the beaten track'. The result, A Sentimental Journey is as far from the conventional travel book as Tristram Shandy is from other novels.
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The Ledge
editor-in-chief: Stacey Knecht,
Thanks to: De digitale pioniers and
Het Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
Design: Maurits de Bruijn

Copyright: Pieter Steinz, Stacey Knecht
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author.