Hale White

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William Hale White
1887 crayon drawing by Arthur Hughes (1831–1915)

William Hale White (22 December 1831 – 14 March 1913), known by his pseudonym Mark Rutherford, was a British writer and civil servant.[1] His obituary in The Times stated that the 'employment of a pseudonym, and sometimes of two (for some of " Mark Rutherford's" work was "edited by his friend, Reuben Shapcott"), was sufficient to prove a retiring disposition, and Mr. Hale White was little before the world in person'.[1]

Life, career and memorials[edit]

Plaque on his birthplace

White was born in Bedford. His father, William White, a member of the Nonconformist community of the Bunyan Meeting, became well known as a doorkeeper at the House of Commons and wrote sketches of parliamentary life for the Illustrated Times.[2] A selection of his parliamentary sketches was published posthumously, in 1897, by Justin McCarthy, the Irish nationalist MP, as The Inner Life of the House of Commons.[3]

White himself was educated at Bedford Modern School[4] until the family moved to London.[5] There he was trained for the Congregational ministry, but the development of his views prevented his taking up that career; the same unconventional views got him expelled from New College, London,[6] and he eventually became a clerk at the Admiralty.[5] In 1861 he began writing newspaper articles to increase his income, having met and married Harriet Arthur and started a family.[6]

He had already served an apprenticeship to journalism before he made his name, or rather his pen name, "Mark Rutherford", famous with three novels, supposedly edited by one Reuben Shapcott: The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford (1881), Mark Rutherford's Deliverance (1885) and The Revolution in Tanner's Lane (1887).[7][8]

Under his own name White translated Spinoza's Ethics (1883). His later books include Miriam's Schooling, and Other Papers (1890), Catherine Furze (2 vols, 1893), Clara Hopgood (1896), Pages from a Journal, with Other Papers (1900), and John Bunyan (1905).[8]

There is now a Mark Rutherford School in Bedford and a blue plaque commemorates White at 19 Park Hill in Carshalton.[9]


White's first wife, Harriet, died in 1891 of multiple sclerosis. Two of their children had died in infancy.[6] In 1907, the widowed White met aspiring novelist Dorothy Smith, who was forty-five years his junior. They fell in love and were married three and a half years later, but only enjoyed two years of married life before his death.[10]

His eldest son by his first wife, Sir William Hale-White, was a distinguished doctor. His second son, Jack, married Agnes Hughes, one of Arthur Hughes' daughters. A third son became an engineer, and White's daughter Molly remained at home to care for her father.[6]

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford: Dissenting Minister Trubner and Co., London, 1881
  • Mark Rutherford's Deliverance Trubner and Co., London, 1885
  • The Revolution in Tanner's Lane Trubner and Co., London, 1887
  • Miriam's Schooling Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., London, 1890[11]
  • Catharine Furze T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1893
  • Clara Hopgood T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1896


  1. ^ a b Obituary in The Times, Mark Rutherford, 17 March 1913, p.42
  2. ^ "Dictionary of Nineteenth-century Journalism in Great Britain and Ireland". google.co.uk. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  3. ^ William White, The Inner Life of the House of Commons, edited with a preface by Justin McCarthy, MP, London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1897
  4. ^ "Bedford Modern School of the black & red". worldcat.org. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  5. ^ a b Bedford Borough Council and Central Bedfordshire Council. "Mark Rutherford (William Hale White) - Digitised Resources - The Virtual Library". culturalservices.net. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d Michael Brealey (8 July 2014). Bedford's Victorian Pilgrim: William Hale White in Context. Authentic Publishers. pp. 20–. ISBN 978-1-78078-351-2.
  7. ^ Max Saunders, "Autobiografiction," Times Literary Supplement (3 October 2008), 13-15.
  8. ^ a b "Results for 'au:Rutherford, Mark,' [WorldCat.org]". worldcat.org. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  9. ^ "WHITE, WILLIAM HALE (1831–1913)". English Heritage. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  10. ^ "Obituary of Dorothy Vernon Horace Smith, The Times". 28 August 1967. Retrieved 28 May 2016.
  11. ^ "Brief review of Miriam's Schooling, and other Papers". The Athenaeum (No. 3274): 124. 26 July 1890.


External links[edit]