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Friswell, J. Hain (James Hain) (1825 - 1878)

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James Hain Friswell (8 May 1825 – 12 March 1878) was an English essayist and novelist. He was born at Newport, Shropshire, son of William Friswell, of 93 Wimpole Street, London, attorney-at-law, and educated at Apsley School, near Woburn, Bedfordshire. He was intended for the legal profession, which he did not enter, but for some years was obliged to follow a business which was uncongenial to his tastes. He early showed a preference for literature, and contributed in 1852 to the Puppet Show, conducted by Angus B. Reach and Albert Smith. Much of his life was devoted to the defence of Christianity. He was a frequent contributor to Chambers's Journal, The Leader, The Spectator, the London Review, the Saturday Review, and the Pictorial World. His first successful works were Houses with the Fronts off, brought out in 1854, and Twelve inside and one out. Edited from the Papers of Mr. Limbertongue, which appeared in the following year. In January 1858 he founded the Friday Knights, a social society, the name of which was changed to the Urban Club on 15 Nov. 1858. One of his most useful publications was Familiar Words, a Collection of Quotations, a work of much labour, which he produced in 1864. In the same year he wrote his best-known work, The Gentle Life, which became very popular, and ran to upwards of twenty editions, including an edition dedicated by desire to the queen. His own periodical, The Censor, a Weekly Review of Satire, Politics, Literature, and Arts, enjoyed but a short life, only running from 23 May to 7 Nov. 1868. He was the projector and editor of the Bayard Series, a Collection of Pleasure Books of Literature, published by Sampson Low & Co., and he also edited the Gentle Life Series, the latter series consisting chiefly of reprints of his own writings. In 1867 he was a contributor to the Evening Star under the signature of Jaques. While on a visit to Richard Brinsley Sheridan at Frampton Court, Dorsetshire, in December 1869, whither he had been invited to meet John Lothrop Motley, author of the Rise of the Dutch Republic, he ruptured a blood-vessel. He was henceforth a confirmed invalid, but continued to work till within a few hours of his death. In 1870 he produced Modern Men of Letters honestly criticised. Mr. Sala, whose life was very severely commented on in this work, brought an action for defamation of character against Hodder & Stoughton, the publishers of the book, and obtained 500 pounds damages. In the advancement of the working classes Friswell took a great interest, delivering lectures, giving readings, and forming schools for their instruction. He also laboured earnestly to reform cheap literature for boys, and his efforts were successful in repressing the circulation of some of the most notorious of the penny publications. The majority of his essays attained great popularity; but his novels did not possess the elements of enduring life. He died at his residence, Fair Home, Bexley Heath, Kent, on 12 March 1878....

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Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims


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