Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Bradley, Edward

BRADLEY, EDWARD (1827–1889), author of ‘Verdant Green,’ the second son of Thomas Bradley, surgeon of Kidderminster, who came of a somewhat ancient Worcestershire and clerical family, was born on 25 March 1827. A brother, Thomas Waldron Bradley, was author of two novels, ‘Grantley Grange’ (1874) and ‘Nelly Hamilton’ (1875), while an uncle, William Bradley of Leamington, wrote ‘Sketches of the Poor by a retired Guardian.’ After education at the Kidderminster grammar school, Bradley went up in 1845 to University College, Durham, where he was a Thorp and foundation scholar. He graduated B.A. in 1848, and took his licentiateship of theology in 1849. Not being of age to take orders, he appears to have stayed a year at Oxford, pursuing various studies, though he never matriculated, and while there he formed a lifelong friendship with John George Wood [q. v.], the future naturalist. For a year or so he worked in the clergy schools at Kidderminster. In 1850 he was ordained by the bishop of Ely (Turton) to the curacy of Glatton-with-Holme, Huntingdonshire. He remained there over four years, during which he described for the ‘Illustrated London News’ the extensive work of draining Whittlesea Mere, then being carried out by William Wells of Holmewood. In 1857 Bradley was appointed vicar of Bobbington in Staffordshire. From 1859 to 1871 he was rector of Denton-with-Caldecote, Huntingdonshire. In 1871 he became rector of Stretton, Rutlandshire, where he carried through a much-needed restoration of the church, at a cost of nearly 2,000l. In order to raise the funds he gave lectures in the midland towns, and was much in demand as an authority upon ‘Modern Humourists,’ ‘Wit and Humour,’ and ‘Light Literature.’

Bradley was a friend and associate of Cruikshank, Frank Smedley, Mark Lemon, and Albert Smith (for whose serials, ‘The Month,’ ‘The Man in the Moon,’ and ‘The Town and Country Miscellany,’ he began to write about 1850). He generally wrote for the press under the pseudonym of ‘Cuthbert Bede,’ the names of the two patron saints of Durham. His one marked literary success was obtained in 1853, when he produced ‘The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green, an Oxford Freshman. With numerous illustrations designed and drawn on the wood by the author.’ Bradley had the greatest difficulty in finding a publisher, but part i. was eventually issued by Nathaniel Cooke of the Strand as one of his shilling ‘Books for the Rail’ in October 1853. Part ii. appeared in 1854, and part iii. in 1856. The three parts were then bound in one volume, of which one hundred thousand copies had been sold by 1870; subsequently the book was issued in a sixpenny form, and the sale was more than doubled. The total amount that Bradley received for his work was 350l. The three original parts are now scarce, and fetched over five guineas in 1890. The picture of 'Master Verdant kissing the Maids on the Stairs after his return from Oxford College' was omitted from the later editions.

Verdant Green contains portraits of Dr. Plumptre, vice-chancellor 1848-62, Dr, Bliss, registrar of the university, and 'the waiter at the Mitre,' while Mr. Bouncer reproduces many traits of the Rev. J. G. Wood. Verdant Green himself is a kind of undergraduate Pickwick, and the book is full of harmless fun. When we regard the difficulty of the subject, the general fidelity with which one side of university life is depicted, and the fact that Bradley was not himself an Oxford man, we can scarcely refuse a certain measure of genius to the author. Taine used it effectively (together with 'Pendennis' and 'Tom Brown at Oxford') as material for his tableau of an English university in his 'Notes sur l'Angleterre.' A sequel by Bradley, produced many years later as 'Little Mr. Bouncer and his friend Verdant Green' (1878), did not approach the original in vigour, nor can much success be claimed for the Cambridge rival of 'Verdant Green,' 'The Cambridge Freshman, or Memoirs of Mr. Golightly' (1871), by Martin Legrand (i.e. James Rice), with illustrations by 'Phiz.'

In 1883, on the presentation of Lord Aveland, Bradley left Stretton for the vicarage of Lenton with Hanby, near Grantham. There, as elsewhere, he was indefatigable as a parochial organiser, establishing a free library, a school bank, winter entertainments, and improvement societies. He died, greatly regretted by all who came into contact with his kindly personality, at the vicarage, Lenton, on 12 Dec. 1889. He was buried in the churchyard of Stretton, which he had laid out during his incumbency there. In December 1858 he married Harriet Amelia, youngest daughter of Samuel Hancocks of Wolverley, Worcester. By her he left two sons, Cuthbert Bradley and the Rev. Henry Waldron Bradley. Portraits are reproduced in the 'Illustrated London News,' 'Boy's Own Paper' (February 1890), and Spielmann's 'History of Punch' (1892), As a young man, then closely shaven and very pale, Bradley was introduced to Douglas Jerrold as 'Mr. Verdant Green.' 'Mr. Verdant Green?' Said Jerrold; 'I should have thought it was Mr. Blanco White.'

Commencing with 'Bentley's' in 1846, Bradley (as E. B. or 'Cuthbert Bede') contributed to a great number of papers and periodicals, including 'Punch' (1847-55), 'All the Year Round,' 'Illustrated London Magazine' (1853-5), 'The Field,' 'St . James's' and 'The Gentleman's' magazines, 'Leisure Hour,' 'Quiver,' 'Notes and Queries' (1852-1886), 'The Boy's Own Paper,' and the 'Illustrated London News,' for which paper he conducted a double acrostic column, commencing 30 Aug. 1856. He claimed to have reintroduced the double acrostic into England.

His separate publications comprise: 1. 'Love's Provocations,' 1855. 2. 'Photographic Pleasures popularly portrayed with Pen and Pencil,' 1855, 1864. 3. 'Motley. Prose and Verse, Grave and Gay,' with cuts by the author, 1855. 4. 'Medley. Prose and Verse,' 1856. 5. 'Shilling Book of Beauty,' edited and illustrated by Cuthbert Bede, 1866, 12mo. (Like 3 and 4, a miscellany of parodies, many of them his own, in prose and verse.) 6. 'Tales of College Life,' 1856. 7. 'Nearer and Dearer' (a novelette), 1857. 8. 'Fairy Fables' (illustrated by A. Crowquill), 1858. 9. ' Funny Figures,' 1858. 10. 'Happy Hours at Wynford Grange,' 1858. 11. 'Humour, Wit, and Satire,' 1860. 12. 'Glencreggan, or a Highland Home in Cantire,' 2 vols. 1861. 13. 'The Curate of Cranston,' with other prose and verse, 1862. 14. 'Tour in Tartan Land,' 1863. 16. 'Handbook to Rosslyn and Hawthornden,' 1864. 16. 'The White Wife, with other Stories, supernatural, romantic, and legendary' (sequel to 12), 1865. 17. 'The Rook's Garden; Essays and Sketches,' 1865. 18. 'Mattins and Muttons' (a Brighton love story), 2 vols. 1866. 19. 'A Holiday Ramble in the Land of Scott,' 1869. 20. 'Fotheringay and Mary Queen of Scots,' 1886.

[Durham University Journal, January and February 1890; Times, 13 Dec. 1889; Biograph, vi. 612; Men of the Time, 12th edit.; Grantham Journal, 14 and 21 Dec. 1889; Boy's Own Paper, July 1889, February 1890; Truth, 21 Dec. 1889; Crockford's Clerical Direct. 1890; Hamilton's Book of Parodies; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. passim; Spielmann's Hist. of Punch, 1895; Halkett and Laing's Anon. and Pseudon. Lit.; Hamst's Fictitious Names, 1868; Brit. Mus. Cat. s.v. ‘Bede, C.’]

T. S.