Author Information At the Circulating Library
Author: Walter Thornbury (1828–1876)
Biography: George Walter Thornbury was born in 1828, the son of the London solicitor George Thornbury. As a youth, he aimed for the church, then studied painting before turning to literature: at age sixteen he contributed topographical and antiquarian articles to the Bristol Journal and a few years later moved to London. Thornbury served as art critic for the Athenaeum and went on to become a highly prolific author of dozens of books and hundreds of articles and stories for the leading periodicals of the day, including All the Year Round, Bentley's Miscellany, Household Words, and Temple Bar. As an art critic, he later wrote The Life of J.M. Turner, R.A. (1862) under the supervision of John Ruskin. He travelled for a time, visiting Turkey, Spain, Egypt, Palestine, and the United States, and turned these experiences into article and travel books. As a poet, he wrote mainly ballads and songs, his most famous collection being Songs of the Cavaliers and Roundheads (1857). As a historian and antiquarian, he wrote The Monarchs of the Main; or, Adventures of the Buccaneers (1855), Shakespeare's England During the Reign of Elizabeth (1856), Haunted London (1865), and other works. As a novelist, Thornbury wrote six novels: Everyman his own Trumpeter (1858), a historical novel of the time of Louis XIV; Icebound (1861), a collection of short stories using an arctic ship as a frame narrative; True as Steel (1863), a historical novel of the German reformation; Wildfire (1864), a tale of the French Revolution; Greatheart (1866), a novel set in Cornwall; and The Vicar's Courtship (1869). In 1872 he married and had three sons. His last days were spent in an asylum due to overwork and he died of typhus fever in 1876 at the age of 48. One obituary lamented, "he sacrificed his life to the ardour of his literary pursuits."
References: Athenaeum (17 June 1876); Bristol Mercury (17 June 1876); DNB; Times (13 June 1876)