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(George) Walter Thornbury

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Published : 137 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : N/A
Death : N/A
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Thombury, George WaIter I Thornbury, W. Thornbury l, 1828–1876, misc, writer. Privately educated. Studied to become artist, then turned his attention to writing. His first articles appeared in Bristol Journal, 1845. Became art critic for Athenaeum. For thirty years was industrious contributor of prose and verse to periodicals – Ainsworth's, Bentley's Misc., Welcome Guest, Once a Week, Art Joumal, Chambers's, and many others. Published some twenty-five books, several of them being collections of his periodical contributions. They include works on social history of England, a life of the artist Turner, sketches of travel and life in foreign countries; also some novels, translations, and volumes of verse. Gained some contemporary reputation as poet.


      Thornbury and Dickens were on friendly terms. Copies of three of his books that he presented to Dickens Thornbury inscribed with his, "kind regards" or his "very kind regards" (Stonehouse, Catalogue). His Tour round England he dedicated to Dickens.
      Dickens in general liked Thornbury's H.W. and A.Y.R. contributions. For some years, he wrote to Thornbury in 1866, he had found pleasure in reading his articles. Dickens's letters to Thornbury concern mainly Thornbury's proposals for a series of A.Y.R. articles titled "Old Stories Re-told." Various of the proposals Dickens rejected as being "mere Newgate Calendar" material without significant bearing on social history. Too much material of that kind, he wrote, would be not only unwholesome for readers, but also distasteful to them. "We must not have too many murders" (April 1, July 10, 1867). Thornbury reprinted a selection of the articles (Old Stories Re-told, 1870).
      One of Thornbury's early A.Y.R. contributions – "Her Majesty's Irish Mail" (July 16, 1859) – angered Irish readers, resulting, wrote Dickens, in "coarse and unreasonable attacks" on himself; he saw nothing in the "innocently meant article" that could have given such "desperate offence" (to Percy Fitzgerald, Aug. 2, 1859; Fitzgerald, Memoirs of an Author, I, 113–14). Dickens suggested to Thornbury the writing for A.Y.R. of "a tour through England." bringing in historical, biographical, and legendary material that would interest the general reader. Thornbury carried out the suggestion, reprinting the articles in 1870, with some revision, as A Tour round England. In Turkish Life and Character, 1860; Tales for the Marines, 1865; and Criss-Cross Journeys, 1873, Thornbury reprinted various other of his A.Y.R. contributions.
      In the Office Book, Fitzgerald is recorded as author of "Pictures and Ballads" [XIX, 409–15. April 2, 1859] ; his name is marked out and substituted by that of Thornbury.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                D.N.B.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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