Gibbon, Edward 1737-
Historian; born in Putney, Surrey, England, April 27, 1737; was from infancy feeble in physical constitution.
His first serious attempt at authorship was when he was only a youth—a treatise on the age of Sesostris.
He was fond of Oriental research.
Reading Bossuet's Variations of Protestantism and Exposition of Catholic doctrine, he became a Roman Catholic, and at length a free-thinker.
He was a student at Oxford when he abjured Protestantism, and was expelled.
He read with avidity the Latin, Greek, and French classics, and became passionately fond of historical research.
He also studied practically the military art, as a member of the Hampshire militia, with his father.
In 1751 he published a defence of classical studies against the attacks of the French philosophers.
In 1764 he went to Rome, and studied its antiquities with delight and seriousness, and there he conceived the idea of writing his great work, The decline and fall of the Roman Empire. It