G. E. Farrow
The son of George Farrow, a cement manufacturer in Ipswich, and his wife Emily, G.E. Farrow was educated in London and America. In 1891 he was working as a clerk to the Collector of Inland Revenue and was living at No 190 Dalston Lane in Hackney. In 1901 he was living at No 83 Sterndale Road in Hammersmith. By this time his occupation is listed as 'Author'. On both these dates his mother was living with him. He also lived for a time in Brook Green in West Kensington.
During his literary career Farrow wrote more than thirty books for children. He encouraged his young readers to write to him, answered their letters, and let their tastes and opinions guide his future works (rather like his American contemporary L. Frank Baum). Though he wrote adventure tales and poetry, Farrow was best known for his nonsense books written in the tradition of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, especially his Wallypug series, including:
- The Wallypug of Why (1895)
- Adventures in Wallypugland (1898)
- The Wallypug in London (1898)
- In Search of the Wallypug (1903)
- The Wallypug in Fogland (1904)
- The Wallypug in the Moon (1905)
— and others; thirty-four volumes in all. His last book was The Mysterious Shin Shira, published in 1915.
Surprisingly for a popular and prolific author, little is known of Farrow's life. We can glean a few sparse facts from the prefaces to his books: that he owned an armchair called Pendennis; had a dog called Gip, and was known to his friends as 'Gef'. We can infer, perhaps, from those prefaces in which he repeatedly begged for letters from his young readers that he was lonely and childless. We can guess with the frequency with which he changed publishers that he was dissatisfied with the terms they offered. Until recently, even the year of his birth was not known with certainty,[note 1] it having been estimated at 1866, partly based on a reference in the Preface to an 1898 book:
- One of my correspondents, aged eight, has embarrassed me very much indeed by suggesting that I should "wait for her till she grows up," as she should "so like to marry a gentleman who told stories." I hope she didn't mean that I did anything so disgraceful; and besides, as it would take nearly twenty-five years for her to catch up to me, she might change her mind in that time, and then what would become of me.
What did become of Farrow is also obscure. Author Noel Streatfeild has speculated,
- I think he must have met a Snark who turned out to be a Boojum, for he certainly has "softly and suddenly vanished away."
Farrow's other books include The Missing Prince (1896) and The Little Panjandrum's Dodo (1899).
- Discovered by researcher Glenn Christodoulou
- G. E. Farrow Bibliography on 'Bookseller World' website
- G. E. (George Edward), 1862-1919. G E Farrow on the University of South Australia website
- G E Farrow on the Internet Archive
- Caroline Sigler, ed., Alternative Alices: Visions and Revisions of Lewis Carroll's Alice Books, Lexington, KY, University Press of Kentucky, 1997; pp. 243-67.
- Peter Hunt, ed., Children's Literature: An Illustrated History, New York, Oxford University Press, 1995; p. 171.
- 1901 England Census Record for George E Farrow
- 1891 England Census Record for George E Farrow
- Gillian Avery, Introduction to The Wallypug of Why Victor Gollanz Ltd (1968) pg 8
- G. E. Farrow, The Wallypug in London, London, Hutchinson & Co., 1898; pp. 6-7.
- Noel Streatfeild, ed., To the Land of Fair Delight, London, Gollancz, 1960; Introduction, p. 7.