Henry Festing Jones

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Henry Festing Jones, 1923 portrait by George Clausen

Henry Festing Jones (30 January 1851 – 23 October 1928)[1] was an English solicitor and writer, known as the friend and posthumous biographer of Samuel Butler.[2][3]


Samuel Butler (1835-1902). Henry Festing Jones, St John's College, University of Cambridge; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

He was the son of Thomas Jones Q.C., and entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1870.[4] Graduating B.A. in 1873, he was articled to a solicitor. He qualified in the profession in 1876.[3]

Jones met Samuel Butler through Edward Hall, a college friend; they became close in 1876.[2] From 1887, he was Butler's paid companion and musical collaborator.[5] Butler had settled in 1864 in Clifford's Inn, London, where he lived for the rest of his life, dying in 1902;[6] Jones lived in Barnard's Inn and Staple Inn during Butler's lifetime.[7][3]

After Butler's death, Jones moved within London to Maida Vale, where his sister kept house for him.[3] He advised Butler's executors (Reginald Worsley, and R. A. Streatfeild who was literary executor).[8] He organised annual "Erewhon Dinners" in Butler's memory, from 1908 to 1914, at the suggestion of Marcus Hartog.[9][10] P. N. Furbank has criticised the editorial stance Jones took, and the effort to make Butler "respectable", of the years before the Memoir appeared.[11]

Work on Samuel Butler's legacy[edit]

In 1910 Jones met Francis Darwin, in an attempt to give closure to the feud between Butler and Charles Darwin that had arisen around 1880; there resulted his pamphlet Charles Darwin and Samuel Butler: A Step toward Reconciliation (1911).[12]

Jones published a well-regarded selection The Note-Books of Samuel Butler (1912), after Desmond MacCarthy had seen the originals, and published extracts in the New Quarterly Review.[13][8] The editing of this work has been seen as involving false emphasis and polishing of the originals, producing an effect of a "cross between Oscar Wilde and Dr Johnson".[14] His biography of Butler, entitled Samuel Butler, Author of Erewhon (1835–1902) — A Memoir, won the inaugural James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography in 1919.[15]

Jones edited Butler's works with Augustus Theodore Bartholomew, known as Theo and a librarian and bibliographer in Cambridge, in 20 volumes appearing 1923–6.[16] On Bartholomew's death in 1933, Geoffrey Keynes became his literary executor, taking on also the papers of Jones and Butler, acting with Brian Hill.[17][18]

Later life[edit]

Through Theo Bartholomew, Jones came to know Siegfried Sassoon, meeting after World War I; Sassoon and others knew him as "Enrico". They corresponded, and Sassoon found Jones a sympathetic audience.[19][20] Bartholomew and Mansfield Forbes visited Jones, and gave him "guru" status.[21] Geoffrey Keynes and his wife were good friends.[18]

Other works[edit]

  • Diversions in Sicily (1909)
  • Castellinaria, and Other Sicilian Diversions (1911)
  • Mont Eryx, and Other Diversions of Travel (1921)

Jones was a student of the Opera dei Pupi.[22] Butler had visited Sicily almost annually in the last decade of his life, usually with Jones.[23]


  1. ^ Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b Peter Raby (1991). Samuel Butler: A Biography. University of Iowa Press. p. 159. ISBN 978-0-87745-331-4. 
  3. ^ a b c d Bernard Shaw; Brian Tyson (1996). Bernard Shaw's Book Reviews: 1884-1950. Penn State Press. p. 394. ISBN 0-271-01548-9. 
  4. ^ "Jones, Henry Festing (JNS870HF)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  5. ^ James G. Paradis (2007). Samuel Butler, Victorian Against the Grain: A Critical Overview. University of Toronto Press. p. 373. ISBN 978-0-8020-9745-3. 
  6. ^ Peter Raby (1991). Samuel Butler: A Biography. University of Iowa Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-87745-331-4. 
  7. ^ s:Butler, Samuel (DNB12)
  8. ^ a b Shaffer, Elinor. "Butler, Samuel". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32217.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  9. ^ "Letters from E. M. Forster to Henry Festing Jones (1909–13), St John's College, Cambridge". University of Cambridge. Retrieved 9 February 2016. 
  10. ^ An Historical and Critical Review of Samuel Butler's Literary Works. Ardent Media. p. 253 note 2. GGKEY:55JD28AASK6. 
  11. ^ P. N. Furbank (29 May 2014). Samuel Butler (1835–1902). Cambridge University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-1-107-65316-0. 
  12. ^ Charles Darwin (15 February 2010). The Works of Charles Darwin, Volume 29: “Erasmus Darwin” by Ernest Krause, with a Preliminary Notice by Charles Darwin; “The Autobiography of Charles Darwin” Edited by Nora Barlow; and Consolidated Index. NYU Press. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-8147-2072-1. 
  13. ^ Rosenbaum, S. P. (1994). Edwardian Bloomsbury. 2. Macmillan. p. 265. ISBN 033340839X. 
  14. ^ Christine Franzen; Laurie Bauer (1993). Of Pavlova, Poetry and Paradigms: Essays in Honour of Harry Orsman. Victoria University Press. pp. 81–. ISBN 978-0-86473-247-7. 
  15. ^ Previous winners: Biography winners, The James Tait Black Prizes, The University of Edinburgh.
  16. ^ Jenny Stringer (1996). The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-century Literature in English. Oxford University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-19-212271-1. 
  17. ^ Jean Moorcroft Wilson (2003). Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches: a Biography (1918-1967). Psychology Press. p. 270. ISBN 978-0-415-96713-6. 
  18. ^ a b Geoffrey Keynes (10 December 1981). The gates of memory. Clarendon Press. p. 62. 
  19. ^ Jean Moorcroft Wilson (24 October 2013). Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet: a Biography (1886-1918). Gerald Duckworth & Company Limited. p. 411. ISBN 978-0-7156-3389-2. 
  20. ^ Jean Moorcroft Wilson (2003). Siegfried Sassoon: The Journey from the Trenches: a Biography (1918-1967). Psychology Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-415-96713-6. 
  21. ^ Hugh Carey (18 October 1984). Mansfield Forbes and His Cambridge. Cambridge University Press. p. 31. ISBN 978-0-521-25680-3. 
  22. ^ Edward Chaney (14 January 2014). The Evolution of the Grand Tour: Anglo-Italian Cultural Relations Since the Renaissance. Routledge. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-317-97367-6. 
  23. ^ Carmine Rapisarda (4 November 2012). British and American writers in Sicily. Lulu.com. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-291-09222-6. 

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