Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/26

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Farjeon
Farmer
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fourteen, he entered the office of the 'Nonconformist' newspaper. At the end of three years, unwillingness to conform to the Jewish faith caused a disagreement with his parents. At seventeen he embarked for Australia, travelling steerage; during the voyage he produced some numbers of a ship newspaper, 'The Ocean Record,' and was transferred by the captain to the saloon. From the goldfields of Victoria he went to New Zealand, on hearing of rich finds there. Soon abandoning the quest of gold, he settled at Dunedin as a journalist. He assisted (Sir) Julius Vogel [q. v. Suppl. I] in the management of the 'Otago Daily Times,' the first daily paper established in the colony, which Vogel founded in 1861. Farjeon became joint editor and part-proprietor; but journalism did not satisfy his ambition, and he wrote a novel, 'Christopher Cogleton,' for the weekly 'Otago Witness,' in which Vogel was also interested, a play 'A Life's Revenge,' and several burlesques in which the leading parts were taken by Julia Matthews, who subsequently won a reputation in London. In 1866 he published at Dunedin a successful tale of Australian life, 'Grif,' and a Christmas story, 'Shadows on the Snows,' which he dedicated to Charles Dickens.

Encouraged by an appreciative letter from Dickens, Farjeon in 1868 returned to England. He travelled by way of New York, where he declined the offer by Gordon Bennett of an engagement on the 'New York Herald'; and settled in chambers in the Adelphi. During the next thirty-five years he devoted himself to novel-writing with unceasing toil. The success of 'Grif,' which was republished in London (1870; new edit. 1885), was maintained in a series of sentimental Christmas stories. 'Blade o'Grass' (1874; new edit. 1899), 'Golden Grain' (1874), 'Bread and Cheese and Kisses' (1874; new edit. 1901), and in many conventional three-volume novels mainly treating of humble life — such as 'Joshua Marvel' (1871), 'London's Heart' (1873), and 'The Duchess of Rosemary Lane' (1876). As a disciple of Dickens, Farjeon won passing popularity, but he turned later to the sensational mystery in which Wilkie Collins excelled, and there his ingenuity was more effective. 'Great Porter Square' (1884) and 'The Mystery of M. Felix' (1890) are favourable examples of his work in this kind. His best novel is the melodramatic 'Devlin the Barber' (1888; new edit. 1901). A play by Farjeon, 'Home, Sweet Home,' was produced by Henry Neville at the Olympic Theatre in 1876, and in 1891 George Conquest put on at the Surrey Theatre Farjeon's dramatised version of his novel 'Grif,' which had already undergone unauthorised dramatisation. In 1873 he sat with Charles Reade and others on a committee formed by John Hollingshead [q. v. Suppl. II] to amend the law so as to prevent the dramatisation of novels without their writers' assent (Hollingshead, My Lifetime, ii. 54).

In October 1877 he gave readings in America from one of his early successes, 'Blade o'Grass.'

Farjeon died at his house in Belsize Park, Hampstead, on 23 July 1903, and his remains were cremated and interred at Brookwood. He married on 6 June 1877 Margaret, daughter of the American actor, Joseph Jefferson; she survived him with four sons and one daughter. A head in pastels, by Farjeon's nephew, Emanuel Farjeon, a miniature-painter well known in the United States, belongs to the widow.

[The Times, 24 July 1903; Edmund Downey, Twenty Years Ago, 1905, p. 246; Tinsley, Random Recollections of an Old Publisher, 1900, ii. 309; private information.]

L. M.


FARMER, EMILY (1826–1905), water-colour painter, was one of the three children of John Biker Farmer, of the East India Company's service, by his wife Frances Ann, daughter of William Churchill Frost. Alexander Farmer, a twin brother of her sister Frances, was an artist; he exhibited at the Royal Academy and elsewhere from 1855 to 1867, and is represented in the Victoria and Albert Museum by two small oil paintings of genre subjects; he died on 28 March 1869. Emily Farmer was born in London on 25 July 1826. She was educated entirely at home, and received instruction in art from her brother. In early life Miss Farmer painted miniatures, but she is best known for her refined and well- drawn groups of children and other genre subjects. She exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1847, and again in 1849 and 1850. In 1854 she was elected a member of the New Society (now the Royal Institute) of Painters in Water Colours, and she was a frequent contributor to its exhibitions until the year of her death. She resided for more than fifty years at Portchester House, Portchester, Hampshire, where she died on 8 May 1905. She is buried, with her mother, sister, and brother, in the churchyard of St. Mary's within the castle at Portchester. The Victoria and Albert Museum has two water-colour drawings by Miss Farmer, viz.