Arthur St John Adcock

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St. John Adcock, 1920s photograph

Arthur St John Adcock (17 January 1864 – 9 June 1930) was an English novelist and poet, known as A. St John Adcock or St John Adcock. He is remembered for his discovery of the then-unknown poet W. H. Davies.


Adcock was born in London. He was a Fleet Street journalist for half a century, as an assiduous freelance writer.[1] He worked initially as a law office clerk, becoming full-time as a writer in 1893. He built up a literary career by unrelenting efforts in circulating his manuscripts, initially also working part-time as an assistant editor on a trade journal.[2][3] He was a founder member in 1901 of Paul Henry's literary and performing club, with Robert Lynd, Frank Rutter and others.[4]

The acting editor of The Bookman from 1908, Adcock, according to A. E. Waite who knew him, did all the work of the Bookman, nominally under its founder William Robertson Nicoll.[5] In 1923 he became also its titular editor.[2] As an influential critic, he has been classed with conservatives such as Hilaire Belloc, Edmund Gosse, Henry Newbolt, E. B. Osborn and Arthur Waugh.[6]


Adcock's papers are held by the Bodleian Library.[7]


Adcock is considered one of the "Cockney school novelists" (not the earlier Cockney School poets), a group influenced by Charles Dickens and including also Henry Nevinson, Edwin Pugh, and William Pett Ridge.[8] East End Idylls (1897), about the London slums, began an early trilogy, and had an introduction by the Christian Socialist James Granville Adderley, a friend. It drew on Arthur Morrison.[9][10]

Adcock published:

  • An Unfinished Martyrdom (1894)
  • Beyond Atonement (1896)
  • East End Idylls (1897)
  • The Consecration Of Hetty Fleet (1898)
  • In The Image Of God (1898)
  • In The Wake Of The War (1900)
  • Songs Of The War (1900)
  • The Luck of Private Foster: A Romance of Love and War (1900)
  • From a London Garden (1903)
  • More Than Money (1903)
  • In Fear Of Man (1904)
  • London Etchings (1904)
  • Admissions And Asides (1905)
  • Love In London (1906)
  • London From The Top Of A 'Bus (1906)
  • The Shadow Show (1907)
  • The World that Never Was. A London Fantasy (1908)
  • Billicks (1909)
  • Two to Nowhere (1911)
  • A Man With A Past (1911)
  • Famous Houses and Literary Shrines of London (1912)
  • The Booklover's London (1913)
  • Modern Grub Street and other essays (1913)
  • In the Firing Line (1914) editor, war reportage anthology, part of the Daily Telegraph War Books series[11]
  • Seeing It Through (1915)
  • Australasia Triumphant! With the Australians and New Zealanders in the Great War on Land And Sea (1916)
  • Songs of The World War (1916)
  • For Remembrance. Soldier Poets who have Fallen in the War. With nineteen portraits (1918)
  • The ANZAC Pilgrim's Progres: Ballads of Australia's Army (1918) Lance-Corporal Cobber, editor
  • Tod MacMammon Sees His Soul (1920)
  • Exit Homo (1921)
  • The Divine Tragedy (1922)
  • Gods of Modern Grub Street: Impressions of Contemporary Authors (1923) on Jeffrey Farnol, W. B. Maxwell, W. W. Jacobs et al.
  • With The Gilt Off (1923)
  • Robert Louis Stevenson: His Work and His Personality (1924) editor
  • The Bookman Treasury of Living Poets [1925) editor, and later editions
  • A Book of Bohemians (1925)
  • The Prince of Wales' African Book (1926)
  • City Songs (1926) editor, poetry anthology
  • Wonderful London (1926/7) editor, three volumes; a shorter version (1935) was reissued in one volume, with preface by Almey St John Adcock, his daughter.[12]
  • The Glory that was Grub Street – Impressions of Contemporary Authors (1928)
  • Collected Poems of St. John Adcock (Hodder and Stoughton, 1929)
  • London Memories (1931)
  • Hyde Park

He was the last editor of The Odd Volume (1917), an annual that folded during World War I.[13]


Adcock married Marion Taylor in 1887, and they settled in Hampstead.[10] Their daughter Marion St John Webb (died 2 May 1930) was also an author.[14] Almey St. John Adcock was also a daughter.[15]


  1. ^ Peter Pierce (17 September 2009). The Cambridge History of Australian Literature. Cambridge University Press. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-521-88165-4.
  2. ^ a b George Walter (26 October 2006). The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry. Penguin Books Limited. p. 401. ISBN 978-0-14-118190-5.
  3. ^ P. Morton (15 April 2005). The Busiest Man in England: Grant Allen and the Writing Trade, 1875–1900. Palgrave Macmillan US. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-4039-8099-1.
  4. ^ S. B. Kennedy; Paul Henry (2007). Paul Henry: With a Catalogue of the Paintings, Drawings, Illustrations. Yale University Press. p. 22. ISBN 0-300-11712-4.
  5. ^ Arthur Edward Waite, Shadows of Life and Thought: A Retrospective Review in the Form of Memoirs (1992 edition, pp. 82–3.
  6. ^ Vivien Whelpton (30 January 2014). Richard Aldington: Poet, Soldier and Lover 1911–1929. Lutterworth Press. pp. 24–5. ISBN 978-0-7188-9318-7.
  7. ^ "Papers of (Arthur) St. John Adcock". University of Oxford. Retrieved 16 December 2015.
  8. ^ Johnson, George Malcolm. "Ridge, William Pett". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/56888. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ John Sutherland (13 October 2014). The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction. Routledge. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-317-86333-5.
  10. ^ a b Sandra Kemp; Charlotte Mitchell; David Trotter (2002). The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction. Oxford University Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-19-860534-8.
  11. ^ Ann-Marie Einhaus (31 July 2013). The Short Story and the First World War. Cambridge University Press. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-107-03843-1.
  12. ^ Lawrence Alfred Phillips (January 2007). A Mighty Mass of Brick and Smoke: Victorian and Edwardian Representations of London. Rodopi. p. 139 note 17. ISBN 90-420-2290-6.
  13. ^ The Bookseller. J. Whitaker. 1961. p. 1676.
  14. ^ Who was Who 1929-1940, 1941
  15. ^ Lawrence Alfred Phillips (1 January 2007). A Mighty Mass of Brick and Smoke: Victorian and Edwardian Representations of London. Rodopi. p. 139 note 17. ISBN 90-420-2290-6.

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