Henry Neville (writer)

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Henry Neville (1620–1694) was an English author and satirist, best remembered for his tale of shipwreck and dystopia, The Isle of Pines published in 1668.


Neville was born in 1620, the second son of Sir Henry Neville (died 1629) of Billingbear House at Waltham St Lawrence in Berkshire, being younger brother of the Royalist commander, Richard Neville. His grandfather, Sir Henry Neville, had served as Ambassador to France. He was educated at Merton and University Colleges at Oxford, but left without graduating. At an early age, he married Elizabeth, the daughter and heiress of Richard Staverton of Heathley Hall in Warfield which became the couple's country estate. Henry spent most of the period of the English Civil War travelling on the European continent. In April 1649 he was elected to Parliament to fill a vacancy as MP for Abingdon. By the end of 1651 he was a member of the Council of State, but found himself so hostile to Cromwell that he temporarily retired from active politics. However, he returned to Parliament in 1659, representing Reading, having become a member of Harrington's republican group.

After the Restoration, he was arrested for treasonable practices in 1663 but was released without punishment, not being regarded as dangerous.


In 1647 Neville published his satire, The Parliament of Ladies. Following his 1663 arrest Neville spent the rest of his life in writing and scholarship. In 1668 he published another satirical take on gender and politics, The Isle of Pines. In 1680 he published Plato Redivivus, a political dialogue arguing that the growing number of property owners in England necessitated a wider distribution of political power. He also published translations from Latin and Italian, including works of Machiavelli before his death in 1694.


  • George Saintsbury; The English Novel, London, 1913.
  • D Brunton & D H Pennington, Members of the Long Parliament (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954)
  • Concise Dictionary of National Biography