Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton (5 June 1858 - 11 June 1859) was an incredibly prolific and successful Victorian era novelist. Today his works are largely forgotten and no longer read. In fact, thanks to such purple prose as the now infamous "it was a dark and stormy night," Bulwer Lytton has to some extent become a joke, the epitome of the hackneyed and cliched writer of substandard fiction.
Certainly Bulwer Lytton's reputation has suffered from changes in public taste. However his more durable contributions to English literature and culture, cannot be ignored. He was, in fact, the originator of many memorable lines such as "the pen is mightier than the sword" and many other phrases which are still n wide use today, even though the works that they originally appeared in have been relegated to dusty library bookshelves.
One of his books, Vril: The Power of the Coming Race (1871), which tells of a mighty technologically advanced civilization underneath the earth's surface, not only helped start the science fiction genre, but inadvertently shaped Nazi philosophy, when it was misinterpreted by some of Hitler's more gullible henchmen as a work of nonfiction. Attempts were actually made by the Nazis to contact this underground civilization.
Bulwer Lytton wrote many works of historical fiction, including several which were set in Rome or during the Roman Empire. Here is the text of his book Rienzi, the Last of the Roman Tribunes, set during the Middle Ages in Rome.