Robinson, Philip Stewart (DNB12)

ROBINSON, PHILIP STEWART, 'Phil Robinson' (1847–1902), naturalist and author, born at Chunar, India, on 13 Oct. 1847, was eldest son in a family of three sons and three daughters of Julian Robinson, Indian army chaplain and editor of the 'Pioneer,' by his wife Harriet Woodcocke, daughter of Thomas Sharpe, D.D., vicar of Doncaster and canon of York. After education at Marlborough College (August 1860 to Midsummer 1865), he was from 1866 to 1868 librarian of the free library, Cardiff. He resigned this post to go to India, where he assisted his father in editing the 'Pioneer' in 1869; he was appointed editor of the 'Revenue Archives' of the Benares province in 1872, and became in 1873 professor of literature and of logic and metaphysics in Allahabad College. He was also censor of the vernacular press. Returning to England in 1877, he joined the staff of the 'Daily Telegraph' as leader writer.

In 1878 he was correspondent of the 'Daily Telegraph,' both in the second Afghan campaign and in the Zulu war. Between 1878 and 1893 he acted as publisher's reader for Messrs. Sampson Low and Co., and edited and prepared for the press Stanley's 'Through the Dark Continent' (1878). From 1881-2 he was special commissioner of the 'New York World ' in Utah, and later in 1882 went to Egypt as war correspondent of the 'Daily Chronicle.' Subsequently he made lecturing tours through the United States and Australia, and in 1898 was correspondent at first of the 'Pall Mall Gazette' and then of the Associated Press in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. The hardships of the Cuban campaigns, including imprisonment and fever, undermined his health, and in his last year he wrote very little beyond occasional articles for the 'Contemporary Review' and for 'Good Words.' He died on 9 Dec. 1902. He married in 1877 Elizabeth King, by whom he had issue, a daughter and a son.

Robinson was one of the pioneers of Anglo-Indian literature, and was foremost in inaugurating the literature descriptive of animate nature in India. His essays on the common objects of Indian scenery abound in keen observation and whimsical humour and show literary skill and taste. His work, which found many imitators, anticipated Mr. Rudyard Kipling's early devotion to Indian themes. Robinson's published works include:

  1. 'Nugæ Indicæ, or on Leave in my Compound,' Allahabad, 1871; subsequently published with additions and a preface by (Sir) Edwin Arnold, under the title of 'In my Indian Garden' (three editions, London, 1878; 8th edit. 1893).
  2. 'Under the Punkah,' 1881; 3rd edit. 1891.
  3. 'Noah's Ark, or Mornings at the Zoo,' 1881.
  4. 'Under the Sun,' Boston, 1882.
  5. 'The Poet's Birds,' 1883.
  6. 'Sinners and Saints: a Tour across the States and round them,' 1883 (new edit. 1892).
The 'Indian Garden' series, which enjoyed the largest circulation of any of Robinson's books:
  1. 'Chasing a Fortune,' 18mo, 1884;
  2. 'Tigers at Large,' 18mo, 1884; and
  3. 'The Valley of Teetotum Trees,' 18mo, 1886.
  1. 'The Poet's Beasts,' 1885.
  2. 'Some Country Sights and Sounds,' 1893.
  3. ' The Poets and Nature,' 1893.
  4. 'Birds of the Wave and Woodland,' 1894
  5. 'In Garden, Orchard and Spinney,' 1897.
  6. 'Bubble and Squeak,' 1902.
  7. (With Edward Kay Robinson and Harry Perry Robinson) 'Tales by Three Brothers,' 1902.
[Allibone's Dict. of Eng. Lit.; Who's Who, 1902; Cardiff Free libraries Annual Reports; information from brother, Mr. Harry Perry-Robinson, and Sampson Low, Marston & Co.]

W. B. O.