James Augustus St. John
James Augustus St. John (24 September 1795 – 22 September 1875), was a British author and traveller.
He was born in Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, Wales, the son of Gelly John, a shoemaker. He recorded that he received instruction from a local clergyman, eventually mastering the classics, and acquiring proficiency in French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic and Persian. As James John, his baptismal name, he became involved in radical politics. Under the name of Julian Augustus St John he went to London, where he obtained the post of deputy editor of Richard Carlile's radical newspaper The Republican. In 1819, shortly after the Peterloo Massacre, Carlile was imprisoned and St. John briefly took over his role as editor.
He obtained a connection with a Plymouth-based newspaper, and when, in 1824, James Silk Buckingham started the Oriental Herald, St. John became assistant editor. In 1827, together with D. L. Richardson, he founded the London Weekly Review, subsequently purchased by Colburn and transformed into the Court Journal. He lived for some years on the Continent and went in 1832 to Egypt and Nubia, travelling mostly on foot. The results of his journey were published under the titles Egypt and Mohammed Ali, or Travels in the Valley of the Nile (2 vols., 1834), Egypt and Nubia (1844), and Isis, an Egyptian Pilgrimage (2 vols., 1853). On his return he settled in London, and for many years wrote political leaders for the Daily Telegraph. In 1868 he published a Life of Sir Walter Raleigh, based on researches in the archives at Madrid and elsewhere. He died in London in 1875.
Besides the works mentioned St. John was also the author of Journal of a Residence in Normandy (1830); Lives of Celebrated Travellers (1830); Anatomy of Society (1831); History, Manners and Customs of the Hindus (1831); Margaret Ravenscroft, or Second Love (3 vols., 1835); The Hellenes, or Manners and Customs of Ancient Greece (1842); Sir Cosmo Digby, a novel (1844); Views in the Eastern Archipelago (1847); There and Back Again in Search of Beauty (1853); The Nemesis of Power (1854); Philosophy at the Foot of the Cross (1854); The Preaching of Christ (1855); The Ring and the Veil, a novel (1856); Life of Louis Napoleon (1857); History of the Four Conquests of England (1862); and Weighed in the Balance, a novel (1864). He also edited, with notes, various English classics.
He had sons, Percy Bolingbroke St. John (1821–1889), Bayle St. John (1822–1859), Sir Spenser St. John (1826–1910) and Horace Roscoe St. John (1830–1888). All became journalists and authors of some literary distinction, particularly Bayle St. John, who began contributing to periodicals when only thirteen, and went on to be a prolific travel writer and biographer.
James had eight children in all. In addition to those named above are: Elizabeth Ann St.John (1824 - ?) James Augustus St.John (1829 - 1880) Helen Cornelia St.John(1831 - 1858) Vane Ireton Shaftesbury St.John (1838 - 1911)
- The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB), 2004 and online, has provided new biographical details
- British Library, Ms. Add. 82960 (1821–22)
- A Wiki of James' genealogy compiled by his descendants, with additional biographical details of him and his six sons and two daughters
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Much of this has been superseded by the article in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography