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William Bodham Donne : portrait in a landscape

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:37 authored by T. Hughie. Jones
William Bodham Donne (1807-1882) was born in Norfolk, attended school in Suffolk and entered Cambridge University in 1824. Elected an 'Apostle', he went down without graduating, objecting to making the necessary religious subscriptions. Returning to Norfolk, and moving later to Suffolk, he began the career which would result in the writing over the years of eight books and 170+ articles in learned journals. Although a classical specialist, his range of interests was wide, reflected in his publications.;In 1852 he became librarian of the London Library and in 1857 the Lord Chamberlain's Examiner of Plays, a post he held until retirement in 1874. His evidence to the 1866 Select Committee of the House of Commons on theatrical licensing and censorship is central to an understanding of nineteenth century practice. While holder of the Examinership, he directed for a time the command performances at Windsor Castle, for which he was rewarded by Queen Victoria. In 1867 he composed his magnum opus, editing the correspondence of George III with Lord North.;He was the friend of many prominent literary figures of his day, including Bernard Barton, J W Blakesley, Edward Fitzgerald, J A Froude, J M Kemble, Charles Merivale, James Spedding, W M Thackeray, Richard Chenevix Trench, as well as the actress, Fanny Kemble, with all of whom he engaged in voluminous correspondence.;The thesis offers a portrait (not formal biography) in a landscape which is both geographical and intellectual. It reveals Donne as a kindly, discriminating literary critic, omnivorous in his reading, retiring in his habits, loyal to his friends. One of them wrote - 'Many men are liked, Donne is loved'.


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University of Leicester

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  • Doctoral

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  • PhD



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