Pullen, Henry William (DNB12)
PULLEN, HENRY WILLIAM (1836–1903), pamphleteer and miscellaneous writer, born at Little Gidding, Huntingdonshire on 29 Feb. 1836, was elder son of the four children of William Pullen, rector of Little Gidding, by his wife Amelia, daughter of Henry Wright. From Feb. 1845 to Christmas 1848 Henry was at the then newly opened Marlborough College under its first headmaster, Matthew Wilkinson. In 1848 his father, who owing to fading health had then removed with his family to Babbacombe, Devonshire, caused to be published a volume of verses and rhymes by the boy, called 'Affection's Offering.' After an interval Pullen proceeded to Clare College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1859, proceeding M.A. in 1862. In 1859 he was ordained deacon on appointment to an assistant-mastership at Bradfield College, and became priest next year. Deeply interested in music, he was elected vicar-choral of York minster in 1862, and was transferred in 1863 to a similar post at Salisbury cathedral At Salisbury he passed the next twelve years of his life, and did there his chief literary work. Several pamphlets (1869–72) on reform of cathedral organisation and clerical unbelief bore witness to his pugnacious and somewhat unpractical temper.
Near the end of 1870, a month after the investment of Paris by the Grermans, Pullen leapt into fame with a pamphlet 'The Fight at Dame Europa's School.' Here he effectively presented the European situation under a parable which all could understand, however they might differ from its moral. John, the head of the school, refuses to separate Louis and William, though he sees that Louis is beaten and that the prolongation of the fight is mere cruelty. John is reproached by Dame Europa for cowardice—is told that he has grown 'a sloven and a screw,' and is threatened with loss of his position.
The success of this squib is almost unexampled. The first edition of 500 copies was printed at Salisbury on 21 Oct. Twenty-nine thousand copies had been issued by 1 Feb. 1871. The Salisbury resources then becoming overstrained, Messrs. Spottiswoode of London printed 50,000 copies (1–9 Feb.). The 192nd thousand appeared on 18 April. The 193rd and final thousand was printed in April 1874. The pamphlet was translated into French, German, Italian, Danish, Dutch, Frisian, Swedish, Portuguese and Jersey-French. A dramatised version by George T. Ferneyhough was acted on 17 March 1871 by amateurs at Derby, in aid of a fund for French sufferers. 'The Fight,' which brought Pullen 3000l., evoked a host of replies, of which 'John Justified' is perhaps the most effective. In 1872 Pullen renewed his onslaught on Gladstone's administration in 'The Radical Member,' but neither then nor in 'Dr. Bull's Academy' (1886) did he repeat his success.
In 1875 Pullen retired from Salisbury. During 1875-6 he served in Sir George Nares's arctic expedition as chaplain on the Alert, receiving on his return the Arctic medal. Thenceforth for twelve years he travelled widely on the Continent, making Perugia his headquarters. The publisher John Murray, to whom he had sent useful notes of travel, appointed him editor of the well-known 'Handbooks.' An admirable linguist in five or six languages, he successively revised nearly the whole of the series, beginning with North Germany.
Re-settling in England in 1898, Pullen held successively the curacy of Rockbeare, Devon (1898-9) and several locum-tenencies. In May 1903 he became rector of Thorpe Mandeville, Northamptonshire, but died unmarried in a nursing-home at Birmingham seven months later, on 15 Dec. 1903.
He is buried at Birdingbury, Warwickshire. There is a brass tablet to his memory on the chancel wall at Thorpe Mandeville.
Pullen's pen was busied with controversy till near the end. In some stories of school life, 'Tom Pippin's Wedding' (1871), 'The Ground Ash' (1874), and 'Pueris Reverentia' (1892), he attacked defects in the country's educational system. Pullen also published apart from pamphlets : 1. 'Our Choral Services,' 1865. 2. 'The Psalms and Canticles Pointed for Chanting,' 1867. 3. 'The House that Baby built,' 1874. 4. 'Clerical Errors,' 1874. 5. 'A Handbook of Ancient Roman Marbles,' 1894. 6. 'Venus and Cupid,' 1896. Many of his books were published at his own expense and he lost heavily by them.
[The Rev. W. Pullen's preface to Affection's Offering, 1848; The Fight at Dame Europa's School and the literature connected with it, by F, Madan, 1882; Narrative of a Voyage to the Polar Sea, by Sir George Nares, 1878; The Times, 18 Dec. 1903; and private information,]