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Frederick James Furnivall (4 February 1825 – 2 July 1910) was an English
philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics (with especially strong ties to etymology). Philology is more commonly defined as ...
, best known as one of the co-creators of the '' New English Dictionary''. He founded a number of learned societies on early
English literature This article is focused on English-language literature rather than the literature of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotla ...
and made pioneering and massive editorial contributions to the subject, of which the most notable was his parallel text edition of ''
The Canterbury Tales
The Canterbury Tales
''. He was one of the founders of and teachers at the London Working Men's College and a lifelong campaigner against injustice.


Life

Frederick James Furnivall was born on 4 February 1825 in Egham, Surrey, the son of a surgeon who had made his fortune from running the Great Fosters lunatic asylum. He was educated at
University College, London , mottoeng = Let all come who by merit deserve the most reward , established = , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the to ...
, and
Trinity Hall, Cambridge Trinity Hall (formally The College or Hall of the Holy Trinity in the University of Cambridge) is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It is the fifth-oldest surviving college of the university, having been founded in 1350 by ...
, where he took an undistinguished mathematics degree. He was called to the bar from
Lincoln's Inn The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the ...
in 1849 and practised desultorily until 1870. In 1862 Furnivall married Eleanor Nickel Dalziel ( – 1937). Some authors describe her as a lady's maid, which would have been a socially unusual match at the time, although her social status is disputed. Some time before 1866, Furnivall lost a child, Eena, whom he described as "my sweet, bright, only child". He lost his inheritance in a financial crash in 1867. When he was 58, he separated from Eleanor and their one surviving son to continue a relationship with a 21-year-old female editor named Teena Rochfort-Smith. Two months after his formal separation from Eleanor, in 1883, Rochfort-Smith suffered serious burns while burning correspondence in
Goole Goole is a port town, port, market town, market town and Civil parishes in England, civil parish in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The town was Historic counties of England, historically within the West Riding of Yorkshire. Goole lies ...
and died. Furnivall was a non-smoker and teetotaller all his life. He took interest in physical fitness and was a
vegetarian Vegetarianism is the practice of abstaining from the consumption of meat Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since prehistoric times. The advent of civilization allowed the domestica ...
for twenty-five years. Furnivall died on 2 July 1910.


''Oxford English Dictionary''

Furnivall was one of the three founders and, from 1861 to 1870, the second editor of the ''
Oxford English Dictionary The ''Oxford English Dictionary'' (''OED'') is the principal historical dictionary of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval Engl ...
'' (''OED''). Despite his scholarship and enthusiasm, his stint as editor of the ''OED'' nearly ended the project. For a dictionary maker he had an unfortunate lack of patience, discipline and accuracy. After having lost the sub-editors for A, I, J, N, O, P, and W through his irascibility or caprice, he finally resigned. He continued, however, to provide thousands of quotations for the dictionary until his death. ''OED'' editor James Murray said of Furnivall: "He has been by far the most voluminous of our 'readers', and the slips in his handwriting and the clippings by him from printed books, and from newspapers and magazines, form a very large fraction of the millions in the Scriptorium." Furnivall joined the
Philological Society The Philological Society, or London Philological Society, is the oldest learned society A learned society (; also known as a learned academy, scholarly society, or academic association) is an organization that exists to promote an discipline ...
in 1847 and was its Secretary from 1853 almost until his death in 1910 at the age of 85. He received an honorary
Doctor of Letters Doctor of Letters (D.Litt., Litt.D., D.Lit., or Lit.D.; Latin ' or ') is a terminal degree in the humanities that, depending on the country, may be considered equivalent to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or equal to a higher doctorate, such as t ...
degree from the
University of Oxford , mottoeng = Psalm 27, The Lord is my light , established = , endowment = £6.1 billion (including colleges) (as of 31 July 2019) , budget = £2.145 billion (2019–20) , chancellor = Chris Patten, The Lord Patten of Barnes , ...
and an honorary Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Berlin. In April 1902 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of
Trinity Hall, Cambridge Trinity Hall (formally The College or Hall of the Holy Trinity in the University of Cambridge) is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It is the fifth-oldest surviving college of the university, having been founded in 1350 by ...
.


Literary societies

Furnivall indefatigably promoted the study of early
English literature This article is focused on English-language literature rather than the literature of England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotla ...
. He founded a series of literary and philological societies: the Early English Text Society (1864), the Chaucer Society (1868), the Ballad Society (1868), the New Shakspere Society (1873), the Browning Society (1881, with Emily Henrietta Hickey, Emily Hickey), the Wyclif Society (1882), and the Shelley Society (1885). Some of these, notably the Early English Text Society, were very successful; all were characterised by extreme controversy. The most acrimonious of all was the New Shakspere Society, scene of a bitter dispute between Furnivall and Algernon Charles Swinburne. These societies were primarily Text publication society, textual publishing ventures. Furnivall edited texts for the Early English Text Society, for the Roxburghe Club and the Rolls Series; but his most important work was on Geoffrey Chaucer. His "Six-Text" edition of the ''Canterbury Tales'' was a new conception. It has been described as containing full and accurate transcriptions, though some modern scholars disagree about his merits as an editor. His work, and that of the amateurs he recruited, was often slapdash, but it was substantial, and it laid the foundation for all subsequent editions. He was one of a small group of Victorian scholars who have been credited with establishing the academic study of English literature.


Working Men's College

In the 1850s Furnivall became involved in various Christian socialist schemes and his circle included Charles Kingsley and John Ruskin. It was through this group that he became one of the founders of the Working Men's College, and although he later became agnostic he always retained a connection with the college. He conceived of the college as a classless, democratic community of learning. One biographer wrote that he formed there a conviction that "scholarship could be pursued by quite ordinary people in a spirit of good-humoured enthusiasm" that was to be the key to his later life.


Rowing

Furnivall was always an enthusiastic Sport rowing, oarsman, and kept up his interest in rowing till the end of his life. With John Beesley in 1845, he introduced the new type of narrow sculling boat, and in 1886 started races on the Thames for sculling fours and sculling eights. In 1896 Furnivall founded the Hammersmith Sculling Club (now called Furnivall Sculling Club), initially for working-class girls, and he "entered into its activities with his usual boyish enthusiasm, for it brought together two of his favourite activities: vigorous outdoor exercise and enjoyment of the company of young women". Furnivall the sculler may have been the original of his acquaintance Kenneth Grahame's character Ratty in ''The Wind in the Willows'' and it has also been suggested that he inspired the portrayal of the god Pan (god), Pan in the same work.


References


Sources

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External links

* * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Furnivall, Frederick James 1825 births 1910 deaths Alumni of Trinity Hall, Cambridge Anglican socialists Chaucer scholars Chief editors of the Oxford English Dictionary English agnostics English Anglicans English book and manuscript collectors English Christian socialists English lexicographers English philologists Fellows of the British Academy Former Anglicans People from Egham