Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Greenwood, Frederick
GREENWOOD, FREDERICK (1830–1909), journalist, born in London on 25 March 1830, was eldest child in the family of eleven children of James Caer Greenwood, a coach-builder in Kensington, by his wife Mary Fish. His brother, James Greenwood, made a reputation as a voluminous story writer and journalist. Charles Greenwood (d. 1905), a popular sporting writer, best known as 'Hotspur' of the 'Daily Telegraph,' was no relation. Frederick, after being privately educated in Kensington, was apprenticed at about the age of fifteen to a firm of publishers and printers, but his indentures were voluntarily cancelled by the head of the firm in a year, and he was engaged as a reader. In 1851 Messrs. Clarke, Beeton & Co. consulted him as to the publication of the first English reprint of 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' (Tatler, 4 Dec. 1901). From the age of sixteen he supported himself, and at twenty he married (1850).
Greenwood was soon writing for papers and magazines. In 1853 he contributed a 'Life of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte' to a general account of 'The Napoleon Dynasty,' described as written 'by the Berkeley men and another.' It was republished under his own name with the title 'Life of Napoleon III, Emperor of the French,' in 1855; in a brief introduction Greenwood 'confesses to little knowledge of "politics" and lens cars.' The book shows a real comprehension of politics, and gives promise of the writer's mature style and method. For a time his chief ambition was to make a reputation as a novelist and story writer. In 1864 appeared 'The Loves of an Apothecary.' To 'Tait's Magazine' he contributed a story, 'The Path of Roses,' republished with numerous illustrations in 1869. A three-volume novel, 'Under a Cloud,' written in collaboration with his brother James, appeared first in 'The Welcome Guest' and then as a separate publication in 1860. He was a constant contributor to the 'Illustrated Times,' a paper started by Henry Vizetelly [q. v.] in 1855, just before the repeal of the Stamp Act (cf. Vizetelly's Glances Back, 1893).
In September 1861 Greenwood became first editor of the 'Queen,' at the outset a profusely illustrated paper, which gave a certain prominence to fashions but was largely literary and political. In July 1863 the 'Queen ' was combined with the 'Lady's Newspaper,' and Greenwood's connection with it ceased. Meanwhile he had established close relations with George Smith, chief proprietor of the publishing firm of Smith, Elder & Co. He contributed (Feb. 1860) 'An Essay without an End' to the second number of the 'Cornhill Magazine,' which Smith inaugurated under Thackeray's editorship. Greenwood's strongest story, 'Margaret Denzil's History,' which contains powerful drawing of character, appeared in the magazine in 1863, and separately in November 1864 (2 vols.). When Thackeray resigned the editorship in 1862, Greenwood and George Henry Lewes [q. v.] directed the 'Cornhill' under George Smith's superintendence. Lewes withdrew in 1864, and Greenwood was sole editor till 1868. But his bent was to journalism of the highest kind. A scheme for an independent daily paper, to be largely modelled both in form and tone on Canning's 'Anti-Jacobin,' had been for some time in his mind, and he had proposed it to Mr. Parker, owner and publisher of 'Fraser's Magazine,' who declined immediate action. Greenwood did not contemplate acting as editor, and consulted Carlyle on the choice of one. Meanwhile George Smith was considering a like design, and when Greenwood brought his scheme to him in 1861, he at once resolved to give it effect. Greenwood, to his surprise, was appointed editor. Smith's partner, Henry Samuel King, declined responsibility, and the venture was Smith's personal concern. A brilliant band of contributors, most of whom were already in personal relations with Smith as a publisher, was collected. The paper was named the 'Pall Mall Gazette,' after the journal described in Thackeray's 'Pendennis.' The first number appeared on 7 Feb. 1865 [see Smith, George, Suppl. I]. The 'Pall Mall' struggled with difficulty into financial success, but its triumph was secured early in 1866, by the publication in it of 'A Night in a Casual Ward, by an Amateur Casual,' three papers written by James Greenwood at the suggestion of his brother. In Greenwood's words they served 'to cut the rope of the balloon.' After 1868 Greenwood became entirely absorbed in the paper.
As editor he acquired an exceptional personal influence. Able writers covered under his guidance a wide field of interests, social, literary, and political. But the marked character of the 'Pall Mall' was given by Greenwood's individuality. (Sir) Leslie Stephen [q. v. Suppl. II], long a contributor, called the paper 'the incarnation of Greenwood.' His dominance was especially great on the political side. He had shared the liberal opinions of his generation, and he never became a conservative in the strict party sense. Thoroughly patriotic, he was no blind follower of any party leader. A vigilant observer of foreign affairs, and a profound admirer of Bismarck, he came to distrust Gladstone's domestic and foreign policy. The foreign policy of the conservative government of 1874-80 found in him an ardent champion. The keen watch he kept on events abroad enabled him in 1875 to acquire early information of the intention of the Khedive Ismail Pasha to sell his Suez Canal shares, and of the serious risk that they would pass into the possession of a French syndicate. He at once communicated first with the foreign secretary. Lord Derby, who was not inclined to move in the matter, and then with the prime minister. Lord Beaconsfield, who acted on his advice. There is no doubt that the purchase of the shares was first suggested by Greenwood, although his claim to that credit has been questioned (letters by Greenwood and others in The Times, 15 April, 11 May, 27 Dec. 1905 ; 13, 26 Jan., 10 Feb. 1906). Through the Russo-Turkish war of 1876-8 he vehemently attacked in the 'Pall Mall' Gladstone's sentimental crusade against Turkey, the maintenance of whose integrity was in his opinion a primary English interest.
In April 1880 the 'Pall Mall Gazette,' then (in Leshe Stephen's phrase) 'the most thorough-going of Jingo newspapers,' was presented by its proprietor, George Smith, to his son-in-law, Mr. Henry Yates Thompson, who avowed his intention to convert the paper into a radical political organ. Greenwood and all the members of the staff left. At the beginning of May the 'St. James's Gazette' was founded by some members of the firm of Antony Gibbs & Co., in order to give Greenwood the opportunity of continuing his advocacy of the old policy of the 'Pall Mall' [see Gibbs, Henry Hucks, Lord Aldenham, Suppl. II]. In the new paper Greenwood fought for the same cause with the same spirit and capacity as in the old. He powerfully advocated the occupation of Egypt in 1882, and was the whole-hearted opponent of the Irish nationalists. No newspaper helped more effectively to destroy Gladstone's power and to prepare the way for the long predominance of the unionist party. But various causes, of which the strongest was the decline of a taste for serious joumahsm in the public, rendered it impossible for the 'St. James's' to attain to the prosperity of the 'Pall Mall.' After the death of one of the proprietors, George Gibbs, on 26 Nov. 1886 the financial control passed to his cousin Henry, who was not equally in harmony with Greenwood's views. In 1888 Greenwood persuaded Edward Steinkopff to buy the paper. But the new proprietor refused his editor the freedom he had so far enjoyed, and Greenwood retired suddenly and in anger within the year. In January 1891 he founded in pursuit of an early design the 'Anti-Jacobin,' at first as a threepenny and then as a sixpenny weekly paper. But the taste of the public was against him here also, and the 'Anti-Jacobin' was discontinued in January 1892.
Meanwhile Greenwood became a contributor to the 'Saturday Review' and other papers, and to 'Blackwood's' and the chief magazines, and he engaged anew in literature, publishing 'The Lover's Lexicon' in 1893 and 'Imagination in Dreams' in 1894. A series of papers which appeared in 'Blackwood's' under the general title of the 'Looker On' in 1898-9 ceased owing to the support given by the magazine to the war in South Africa. On that subject Greenwood shared the views of the pro-Boers. He always distrusted Mr. Chamberlain and the radical unionists, and had a scornful dislike of the South African financiers.
Greenwood, who was quick to detect literary merit, was the private adviser of many literary men who achieved eminence. George Meredith was among his friends, and drew him as Richard Rockney in 'Celt and Saxon' (1910) (cf. W. T. Stead in Review of Reviews, July 1910, p. 57). At a dinner given in his honour in London on 9 April 1905, Mr. J. M. Barrio spoke warmly of his debt to Greenwood's early encouragement. His editorial skill and instinct were only equalled by the perfect sincerity of his opinions, and his absolute disinterestedness. Greenwood died at his house in Sydenham on 14 Dec. 1909.
Greenwood's wife, Katherine Darby, whom he married in 1850, belonged to a landed family of Quaker connections in Hampshire. She died in 1900. Of Greenwood's five children, a son and two daughters survived him. His daughters were granted a civil list pension of 100l. in 1910.
[Information from the family; personal knowledge; Leslie Stephen's Life of Fitzjames Stephen, 1895; Herbert Paul's History of Modern England, 1905, vols. iii. and iv.; Tinsley, Random Recollections, i. 303. Maitland's Life of Leslie Stephen (1905) and Hyndraan's Record of an Adventurous Career (1911) give estimates of Greenwood as editor from contributors' points of view.]