Agustus Montrose

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Agustus Montrose
A portrait of Montrose from 1897
Born Agustus Horatio Montrose
22 October 1830
London, England
Died 31 December 1899(1899-12-31) (aged 69)
London, England
Resting place London, England
Pen name Agustus Montrose
Occupation Author, Playwright
Language English, French
Nationality English
Citizenship England
Education University of London
Period Mid-Late 19th Century
Genre Fiction, Psychological novel, Theatre
Literary movement Modernism
Notable works Lilies In December
Partner Multiple

Agustus Horatio Montrose (1830–1899) was an English novelist and playwright operating in the northeast of London in the mid to late 19th century.[1] He is especially notable for one novel (see Lilies In December) and several plays, although he wrote 22 known pieces and there is a possibility that more were created unknown to the scholars who study him. He is considered influential to many later 19th and 20th century authors, including Joseph Conrad. Spending a life in semi-poverty with only moderate success, Montrose was popular among many citizens.[2] Two of his plays have been banned by various Private Libraries.[3] When asked about the abnormal parody of the name Augustus, Montrose said, "My mother liked the name Augustus, but was absolutely an individual and she didn't want a name for me that would be common. Thus she decided upon Agustus, to be pronounced identically to Augustus but spelled without the 'u'." [4]


Montrose's work includes one novel and 22 plays written throughout his 43-year publishing career. They are chronologically ordered below with links to all works that exist: Note: All works listed are plays unless otherwise noted.

  • Lilies In December (novel)- 1856
  • The Great Revolt- 1858
  • The Conflicting Families of McGreggor and Kilton- 1859
  • Stories Forever- 1860
  • Death, Love, and Fear (First in a series of 3 plays)- 1862
  • The Maturation of Lives Birthed Upon the Battlefield (Second in a series of 3 plays)- 1862
  • Bite of Time- 1862
  • Cleansing the Isle (Third in a series of 3 plays)- 1863
  • Exile and Exodus- 1866
  • A Compromising Crash- 1867
  • The End of Chivalry- 1870
  • Definitive Realities of the Most of the World- 1872
  • Romancing the Dead- 1874
  • Dryness of the Sea- 1877
  • Defeat of Hastings and the Dreary Events to Follow- 1878

-Took a break from writing from 1878 to 1884 due to stress and writer's block-

  • Lilies In December- Developed for Stage- 1885
  • Suffering in its Purest Form- 1885
  • Illnesses of Society- 1887
  • The Relentless Siege of Ireland- 1889
  • Selfish Desires of Selfish Superiors- 1892
  • Mythology of Free Will- 1894
  • Subtle Changes in the Village of Seringtonshire- 1896
  • Petty Thoughts- 1898

Most scholars concur that Montrose's career ended in 1898 after "Petty Thoughts" was published. They also believe that his reasons for retiring were growing insanity and loss of interest.[5] However, there are several fringe theories that elaborate on Montrose's activities during the last 3 years of his life. One such theory states that while he was writing his last work (another novel some state), he worked so vigorously that he was driven to insanity, getting so into his writing that stopped acting in reality but rather in the ways that the main character of his book was supposed to write it. Some also believe that he did not die peacefully as most people believe, but instead commit suicide as was the plan for the character he was impersonating.

Despite having produced 22 plays, only 6 (The Conflicting Families of McGregor and Kilton, Dryness of the Sea, Lilies In December for stage, Exile and Exodus, The End of Chivalry, and Subtle Changes in the Village of Seringtonshire) were ever staged more than twice for the public.[6]

Writing style[edit]

Montrose's writing style has been described as, "Dark and depressing but somehow delivering a message of hope." As was common with psychological novels, he emphasizes an extreme display of character development. This is best shown in his novel, Lilies In December where he, "makes the two main characters best friends, murderously hateful of each other, and eventually best friends again- all in believable fashion, as he continued to do with his later work." After his first work (Lilies In December), he began contributing to theatre and never again wrote another novel. In his plays he still shows, "a degree of darkness not seen by most authors and certainly not harnessed by them." [7]

Personal life[edit]

Born illegitimately to Patricia Montrose on 22 October 1830, young Agustus grew up in the slums of north London. For much of his childhood, he witnessed adverse poverty and hardship. More often than not, it was difficult for them to make do. This early struggle is believed to have influenced many of his later works on the stage, his socialist sympathies, and debatably Lilies In December. At age nine, his mother died of unknown causes, leading to adoption by his wealthy uncle, Edmund Montrose. Many scholars agree that without his mother's death, he would not have eventually attended the University of London. While living in Oxford with Edmund, young Agustus became interested in literature, and was tutored in accordance. Between the years of 1842 and 1847, he showed extreme progression in his understanding of various literary works. In 1849, Edmund funded his enrollment at the University of London. Throughout his life he was an alcoholic, a notorious womanizer and was, as one acquaintance put it, "An abrasive person, with undeniable brilliance but an extreme stubborn. A true individual." Later in life however, he began to go insane and, despite the urging of several friends, he never received any mental help.[8] Most scholars agree that he died peacefully in his home on 31 December 1899.


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  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
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  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
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  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 2010-01-16.