FORSTER, JOHN (18r2-1876), English biographer and critic, the son of a cattle-dealer, was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne on April 2, 1812, and was educated at Newcastle Grammar School and London University. He was entered at the Inner Temple, but devoted himself to journalism, acting as literary and dramatic critic to the Examiner, and contributing to other papers. At a later period (1847-56) he edited the Examiner. His Treatise on the Popular Progress in English History (1840) at once secured recognition of his powers, and he was associated with the principal literary personages of the London of his day, with Bulwer, Tal fourd, Fonblanque, Landor, Carlyle and Dickens. The great work by which Forster is known is The Life of Charles Dickens (1872— /4 ), one of the great biographies of the English language. Forster died on Feb. 2, 1876.
Forster's other works include : Lives of the Statesmen of the Commonwealth (1836-39) ; Life and Times of Oliver Goldsmith (1848; rev. ed. 18S4) ; Arrest of the Five Members by Charles I. (186o) ; Sir John Eliot: a Biography (1864) ; Life of Landor (1868); and Life of Swift (1875, incomplete).
See a notice by Henry Morley prefixed to the official Handbook (1877) of the Dyce and Forster bequests; P. H. Fitzgerald, John Forster by one of his friends (19o3) ; R. Renton, John Forster and his Friendships (1912) .