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Stowe, William Henry (DNB00)

STOWE, WILLIAM HENRY (1825–1855), scholar and journalist, eldest son of William and Mary Stowe, was born at Buckingham on 1 Jan. 1825. After attending a school at Iffley, near Oxford, he spent six months at King Edward's school, Birmingham. Leaving at Easter 1840, he studied medicine for three years at Buckingham, but, finding the pursuit uncongenial, entered at Wadham College, Oxford, in January 1844. At Oxford he was intimately associated with G. G. Bradley (afterwards dean of Westminster), John Conington, and other members of the Rugby set. In 1848 he was placed in the first class in the final classical school with Edward Parry (afterwards bishop suffragan of Dover) and William Stubbs (afterwards bishop of Oxford). After occupying himself for two years in private tuition at Oxford, he began in 1851 a connection with the ‘Times’ by contributing literary articles, among them a comparison of the characteristics of Thackeray and Dickens. In March 1852 he obtained an open fellowship at Oriel College, and afterwards entered at Lincoln's Inn.

In May 1852 John Walter, the proprietor, gave him a permanent post on the staff of the ‘Times.’ His work for the paper was mainly confined to literary subjects, although he wrote many leading articles on miscellaneous topics. His reviews of Kaye's ‘Afghanistan’ and of Dickens's ‘David Copperfield’ were reissued in ‘Essays from the Times’ (2nd ser. 1854), edited by Samuel Phillips [q. v.] Other literary notices by him of interest were on ‘Niebuhr's Letters’ (1853) and on ‘The Mechanical Inventions of James Watt’ (1855). An admirable memoir which he wrote of Lord Brougham appeared in the ‘Times’ of 11 May 1868, after Stowe's death.

In 1855 the ‘Times’ organised a ‘sick and wounded fund’ for the relief of the British army in the Crimea, and Stowe was selected to proceed to the east as the fund's almoner. He reached Constantinople before the end of February, and was soon at Scutari, whence he moved to Balaklava. There he visited the hospitals and camp, and reported on the defects of the sanitary situation. ‘Others talked, Mr. Stowe acted,’ wrote the author of ‘Eastern Hospitals’ (pp. 90–2). On 16 March his first letter from the Crimea appeared in the ‘Times,’ and described the Balaklava hospitals and the health of the army. Many further despatches on like subjects followed up to midsummer 1855. Two of Stowe's letters (Nos. 80 and 81) described the third bombardment of Sebastopol, and were embodied in ‘The War,’ 1855, by (Sir) W. H. Russell, the ‘Times’ correspondent. But Stowe's health was unable to resist the fatigue and exposure to an unhealthy climate which were incident to his labours. He died of camp fever at Balaklava on 22 June 1855, and was buried in the cemetery there (see Illustrated London News, 22 Nov. 1855). A cenotaph to his memory was erected by friends in the chapel of Oriel College. John Walter, in a leading article from his own pen in the ‘Times’ of 6 July 1855, recounted Stowe's experiences in the Crimea, and characterised his despatches as ‘an astonishing effort of intellectual and descriptive talent.’

[Times, 6 July 1855; Sir W. H. Russell's The War, 1855; private information.]

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