Preface

IN the busy world of to-day, the hours which most men and women are able to devote to reading must necessarily be limited, so that, with the best will in the world, they are not always able to widen their knowledge of the famous characters of fiction, history, and the drama to the extent that they would do were their lives set in a more tranquil age. The result is that a great many references in contemporary literature and journalism escape them. It is the purpose of these tiny biographies to try and help such readers by giving them a nodding acquaintance with the immortals of romance until such time as they may secure the opportunity of cultivating their friendship in the books and plays wherein they live and for all time have their being. We have sought, not only to record a few central facts in each biography, but also to capture something of the spiritual atmosphere and significance of each character-all in the smallest space imaginable. That we have succeeded at least in some measure is proved by the fact that the series of little articles, of which the present book contains a selection, has been appearing day by day, for several months, in important newspapers all over the country, which would seem to show that readers have found them sufficiently instructive and entertaining to induce editors to make them a semipermanent feature of their journals. Our thanks are due to our very good friend, Mr. H. A. Taylor, who conceived the idea and kindly commissioned us to translate it into practice. G. M. and A. K. C.