Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sime, James

SIME, JAMES (1843–1895), critic and journalist, born 31 Oct. 1843, was eldest son of Rev. James Sime of Airdrie, and afterwards of Wick and Thurso, Caithness-shire (d. 19 Sept. 1865 at Thurso, aged 60), and of Jane Anderson of Glasgow (d. 28 Jan. 1889 at Edinburgh). He was educated at Anderson's Gymnasium, Aberdeen, which he left in 1859 for Edinburgh University, where he graduated M.A. in 1867. In 1866, having given up the idea of entering the ministry, he went to Germany, and studied German literature and philosophy, first at Heidelberg University, and afterwards at Berlin. During his stay in Germany he was engaged in collecting materials for his ‘Life of Lessing,’ and he visited most of the places connected with his hero's career, and with the lives of Goethe and Schiller. He returned and settled in London, Norland Square, Notting Hill, in 1869, and commenced journalism. In 1871 he took a mastership in the Edinburgh Academy, but, finding the work uncongenial, resigned and returned to London in 1873 to literary work, which occupied him till his death. He was successively connected with the ‘Globe,’ the ‘Pall Mall Gazette,’ and the ‘St. James's Gazette’ (under Mr. Frederick Greenwood), writing chiefly on social and educational topics, and on continental politics. He was a constant contributor to the ‘Athenæum,’ ‘Saturday Review,’ and the ‘English Illustrated Magazine,’ did weekly work for the ‘Graphic’ and the ‘Daily Graphic’ for many years, and for some time was on the staff of ‘Nature.’ He had planned a history of Germany on a fairly big scale, but the claims of his everyday work, and his premature death, prevented the realisation of this scheme, for which his wide reading and sound judgment eminently qualified him. From 1880 he lived at a house in Bedford Park, 1 Queen Anne's Grove, which he had built. He died there of influenza, on 20 March 1895, and was buried at Hampstead cemetery. Sime married, on 6 Oct. 1865, Jessie Aitken Wilson (youngest sister of Sir Daniel Wilson [q. v.], president of Toronto University, and of Professor George Wilson of Edinburgh University). One child of this marriage survived him, Georgina Jessie. A portrait was engraved from a characteristic photograph.

His published works were: 1. ‘History of Germany’ (historical course for schools, edited by E. A. Freeman), 1874. 2. ‘Life of Lessing,’ 2 vols. 1877. 3. ‘Schiller’ (Blackwood's ‘Foreign Classics for English Readers’), 1882. 4. ‘Mendelssohn's Letters,’ 1887. 5. ‘Life of Goethe’ (‘Great Writers Series’), 1888. 6. ‘Geography of Europe,’ 1890. He also edited ‘Minna von Barnhelm,’ 1877, and wrote numerous articles dealing with German history, literature, and biography in the ninth edition of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica.’

[Personal knowledge and information from family.]

F. Y. P.