anadians still remember Sir. Edward G. G. Bulwer-Lytton as the British cabinet minister who named the Pacific mainland colony where gold was discovered in 1858 "New Caledonia" — "Lytton," in the interior of British Columbia, is often the nation-wide hotspot in the late spring and summer. On 8 July, 1858, he introduced a bill to establish the crown's rights to the gold discovered on the Fraser River in the new colony and to provide for representative government there in 1863. West Indians remember him as the reforming politician whose eloquence persuaded the Commons to outlaw the last vestige of slavery, "apprenticeship," in May, 1838. Australians remember him as the British Colonial Secretary who separated Queensland from New South Wales and secured the post of governor of the new colony for Sir George Bowen. Today, English-speaking readers around the world still acknowledge his power as an historical and occult novelist to evoke an era in The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), despite his sometimes pompous, long-winded style. Throughout the nineteenth century, the work was the subject of stage extravaganzas, and has been filmed a number of times, first in 1898 and most recently (with Sir Lawrence Olivier) in 1984. In his time, he was a prolific writer of verse and verse drama, as well as best-selling thrillers and historical novels, the friend of actor-manager William Charles Macready, Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, and novelist Charles Dickens.
After over half-a-century of neglect, in the late 1960s new editions of Bulwer-Lytton's novels began to appear: the First Novel Library's Falkland (1967), Pelham with full textual apparatus (1972), England and the English (1970), and the Rosicrucian-occult novels Zanoni (1971), Vril (1971), and The Power of the Coming Race (1972). Biographical interest has also led to publication of several volumes of his correspondence, shedding new light on his literary relations: R. L. Wolff's edition of sensation novelist and Belgravia editor M. E. Bratton's letters to Bulwer-Lytton, 1862-73; and Malcolm O. Usrey's edition The Letters of Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton to the Editors of "Blackwood's Magazine," 1840-1873, in the National Archives of Scotland. In 1936, James J. Barnes' "Edward Bulwer and the Publishing Firm of Harper and Brothers" in American Literature made use of the novelist's letters in the Hertford County Records Office to document the novelist's problems with American piracies of his works. Finally, the centenary of his death, 1973, seemed to spark a certain biographical interest, with essays by S. J. Flower ("Bulwer-Lytton: An Illustrated Life of the First Baron of Lytton), Christopher McIntosh (in Country Life), Keith Roberts (in Burlington Magazine), Robert Blake (in the Cornhill Magazine), and A. C. Christensen (in Nineteenth-Century Fiction).
The Encyclopaedia Britannica describes Bulwer-Lytton as a "British politician, poet, and critic, chiefly remembered, however, as a prolific novelist. His books, though dated, remain immensely readable, and his experiences lend his work an unusual historical interest."
Last updated 12 December 2000