Image of George Manville Fenn


Lifetime: 1831 - 1909 Passed: ≈ 114 years ago


Novelist, Journalist


United Kingdom

George Manville Fenn

George Manville Fenn was a prolific English novelist, journalist, editor and educationalist. Many of his novels were written for young adults. His final book was a biography of his fellow writer for juveniles, George Alfred Henty.

Fenn, the third child and eldest son of a butler, Charles Fenn, was largely self-educated, teaching himself French, German and Italian. After studying at Battersea Training College for Teachers (1851–1854), he became the master of a national school at Alford, Lincolnshire.

Fenn later became a printer, editor and publisher of some short-lived periodicals, before attracting the attention of Charles Dickens and others with a sketch for All the Year Round in 1864. He contributed to Chambers's Journal and to the magazine Once a Week. In 1866, he wrote a series of articles on working-class life for the newspaper The Star. These were collected and republished in four volumes, and were followed by a similar series in the Weekly Times.

Fenn's first story for boys, Hollowdell Grange, appeared in 1867. It was followed by a succession of other novels for juveniles and adults. The Star-Gazers (1894), for example, was a three-volume "astronomical romance" for adults. Having become the editor of Cassell's Magazine in 1870, Fenn then purchased Once a Week and edited it until it closed in 1879. He also wrote for the theatre. Fenn authored many historical fiction novels, including Crown and Sceptre: A West-Country Story (1889) about the English Civil War, Ned Ledger (1899), focusing on naval combat during War of the Austrian Succession, The King's Sons (1901) about King Alfred, and Marcus, the Young Centurion (1904), about Julius Caesar.

Fenn and his family lived at Syon Lodge, Isleworth, Middlesex, where he built up a library of 25,000 volumes and took up telescope making. His last book was a biography of a great fellow writer of boys' stories, George Alfred Henty.

In 1855, George Manville Fenn married Susanna Leake; they had two sons and six daughters. He died at his home on 26 August 1909.

Books by George Manville Fenn

The Dark House Cover image

The Dark House

Crime Fiction
Detective Fortune

An extremely wealthy but reclusive man has died, leaving an eccentric will which hints at great riches hidden somewhere in the house. Most of the people at the reading of the will did not know the deceased in person, but had received kindnesses from...

Young Robin Hood Cover image

Young Robin Hood

Fiction History
Heroic Robinhood

Ever wonder how Robin Hood became Robin Hood? Well, now you can read how a young boy was molded into the famous hero who "robbed from the rich and gave to the poor". This imaginative story gives zesty details into the development and growth of the fa...

Bunyip Land Cover image

Bunyip Land

Adventure Action Fiction
Children's Literature Ship Voyage Friendship

Joe Carstairs is a boy on a farm in Australia. His father is a keen naturalist who, some years before had set off for New Guinea in search of specimens, and never been heard of again. Joe is old enough to mount a search expedition, and takes with him...

Peril Finders Cover image

Peril Finders

In California settlers are trying to make a living working as fruit-growers. Problems with blights and insects mean that the crops are failing. A prospector arrives and tells stories of ancient cities where there is a lot of gold. He then dies. Some...

Cutlass and Cudgel Cover image

Cutlass and Cudgel

Based around the crew of cutter HMS White Hawk, this is a tale of smuggling in the early 19th century off the coast of Wessex. The midshipman of the cutter is taken hostage by the smugglers and is befriended by a farm-boy, son of one of the smugglers...