Image of George Payne Rainsford James


Lifetime: 1799 - 1860 Passed: ≈ 163 years ago


Novelist, Writer



George Payne Rainsford James

George Payne Rainsford James was an English novelist and historical writer, the son of a physician in London. He was for many years British Consul at various places in the United States and on the Continent. He held the honorary office of British Historiographer Royal during the last years of William IV's reign.

George Payne Rainsford James was born in St George Street, Hanover Square, London in 1799. His father was a physician who had served in the navy and was in America during the Revolutionary War, serving with Benedict Arnold in the Battle of Groton Heights.

George attended the school of the Reverend William Carmalt in Putney. He developed a love of languages, including Greek, Latin, Persian and Arabic. He also studied medicine as a young man, but his inclinations led him in a different direction. He wanted to go into the navy, but his father was against it, due to his own naval experiences, finally allowing him to join the army. George served for a short time in the army as a lieutenant during the Hundred Days, and was wounded in a small action following The Battle of Waterloo. He travelled extensively, visiting France and Spain soon after the abdication of Napoleon. These early travels gave him the idea for his novel Morley Ernstein.

In 1825 he wrote his first, and probably his best known novel Richelieu: A Tale of France, which was not published until 1829. After reading Richelieu, which had been given to him by a friend, and after receiving a letter from James, Walter Scott advised him to take up literature as a profession. He was also given encouragement by Washington Irving.

In 1828 he married Frances Thomas, the daughter of Honoratus Leigh Thomas, an important physician. After their marriage they lived in France, Italy, and Scotland. They had two children. His wife survived him by 31 years, dying in Wisconsin in 1891.

Books by George Payne Rainsford James

The Huguenot: A Tale of the French Protestants Cover image

The Huguenot: A Tale of the French Protestants

Fiction Political Science
Governments Politics Historical Fiction Protestants Literary Fiction

The time of French king Louis XIV was a time of religious conflict. His father, Louis XIII had tried to suppress the teachings and followers of Calvin but was thwarted by his ministers. The son took a different path. The king was Catholic, and althou...

Arabella Stuart Cover image

Arabella Stuart

Memoir Biography
Marriage Fortune Historical Fiction Autobiography Success Struggle Life

Lady Arabella Stuart was an English noblewoman at the beginning of the seventeenth century. At one time considered to be a possible successor to Elizabeth I, the crown eventually went to her cousin, the tyrannical James I. Our story begins in 1603, s...

The Smuggler Cover image

The Smuggler

Fiction Novel
Romantic Adventure Thriller Sacrifice Loyalty Life Conflict Historical

It is a historical fiction novel that tells the story of a young smuggler named Jack Smith who becomes involved in a dangerous plot to overthrow the government. Originally published in 1845, "The Smuggler" is set in the 18th century and provides a v...

Agincourt: A Romance Cover image

Agincourt: A Romance

Romantic Love Battle War Historical Fiction Honor Explore Experiences

It is an enthralling tale that transports readers to the captivating world of medieval Europe. Penned by the esteemed author George Payne Rainsford James, this historical romance novel weaves a story of heroism, political machinations, and the legend...

Darnley Cover image


Fiction Novel
Murder Power Debate Historical Fiction Betrayal Dark England Ambition Past

In the shadows of the English court, a young man plots to become king. Darnley is a historical novel by George Payne Rainsford James that tells the story of Henry Darnley, the second husband of Mary, Queen of Scots. The novel follows Darnley's rise...

The Fate: A Tale of Stirring Times Cover image

The Fate: A Tale of Stirring Times

Love War Idealism Adventure Historical Fiction Friendship Betrayal Alternate History Literary Fiction

n the late 18th century, two young men, Charles de Haldimar and Henry Grantham, are friends and fellow officers in the British army. They are stationed in Canada, where they are caught up in the conflict between the British and the French. Charles i...

Convict Cover image


As young Lord Hadley and his companion Edward Dudley travel along a dark, coastal road, they encounter a young girl pinioned by a fallen wall. They rescue her and alert her father, stationed on the cliff-top, apparently watching for something or some...

Agnes Sorel Cover image

Agnes Sorel

The Hundred Years' War: a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the House of Valois, rulers of the Kingdom of France, over the succession to the French throne. It was a time...

L'Orme Cover image


G.P.R. James was a historian and novelist, who took well-documented historical events and characters and wove stories around minor or imaginary actors in the events. In this work, set in seventeenth century France, we follow the adventures of young L...

Forgery Cover image


Humphrey Scriven is a fine, genial, mercantile man, left widowed to raise three daughters and a son. Two of the daughters marry well although happiness is not enduring. The other defers her marriage, knowing her father disapproves of her choice. The...

Forest Days: A Romance of Old Times Cover image

Forest Days: A Romance of Old Times

Picture a tranquil English village, with an inn on the green. A lone patron enjoys his wine and teasing the landlord's pretty daughter, when suddenly they are rudely interrupted by a local aristocrat and his two henchmen. These same three reappear th...

Ticonderoga; A Story of Early Frontier Life in the Mohawk Valley Cover image

Ticonderoga; A Story of Early Frontier Life in the Mohawk Valley

In the backwoods, lives a man and his two teenage children. He has sought the quiet life on the frontier, although he is a friend to all and never turns away a stranger. One evening, one such stranger arrives at his door, asking for shelter for the n...

Lord Montagu's Page Cover image

Lord Montagu's Page

A young man is crossing the English Channel bound for France. It is obviously not his first such trip, but who is he and what is his errand? Almost immediately, Ned, for such is his name, falls into danger. He is carried to the home of a town officia...

Arrah Neil; or, Times of Old Cover image

Arrah Neil; or, Times of Old

During his lifetime, James published an estimated 100 novels. Arrah Neil was published some 40 years after his death. In this historical novel, we are transported to the times of the English Civil War. Lord Walton and his sister Anne are monarchists...

Richelieu: A Tale of France Cover image

Richelieu: A Tale of France

Written in three volumes, this fictionalized biography of Richelieu is supposedly based on a manuscript that fell into the author's hands and written by someone intimately acquainted with the facts. Cardinal Richelieu was a powerful French statesman...

Thirty Years Since; or, The Ruined Family Cover image

Thirty Years Since; or, The Ruined Family

Two young men share a carriage from London to Staines early on a late August morning. One is a Captain Delaware of the navy, recently returned from an enforced sojourn in Sicily. The other is more mysterious. He goes by the name of Burrell. The initi...