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George Manville Fenn

Novelist, Journalist

Country:United Kingdom

Lifetime: 1831 - 1909 Passed: ≈ 113 years ago

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.

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