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The Times/1936/Obituary/Thomas Wright


Mr. Wright of Olney

An industrious biographer

Mr. Thomas Wright died of bronchial pneumonia on Friday at his home at Olney, Bucks at the age of 76. He was a most industrious biographer and editor, and the founder of the Cowper, John Payne, and Blake Societies.

Mr Wright's work in general has been of value to students owing to his remarkable powers of research. It must be said, however, that his skill and industry in the collection of facts were superior to his literary style, his critical faculty, and his selection and arrangement of his material.

At Olney he was born and lived, and it was natural this his first book should have been "The Town of Cowper" (1886). This was followed by a life of the poet, of which a second edition appeared in 1921, and editions of his letters, including a number previously unpublished. His efforts to secure Cowper's garden and summer-house for the nation were successful in 1919; the poet's house had been presented at the centenary in 1900.

Mr. Wright produced a life of Defoe, in 1894, and nearly 40 years later reissued it with so much material as be practically a new book. His friendship with John Payne, the translator, brought in 1919 another large biography largely uncritical, containing many trivial episodes mixed with details of importance. A life of Blake (1929) shows similar ingenuousness, nor was Mr. Wright the ideal biographer of Walter Pater (1907). Last year he produced a life of Charles Dickens on which he had worked at intervals since 1893. He wrote also the lives of Edward FitzGerald, Sir Richard Burton, Colonel Fred Burnaby, Isaac Watts, and certain other hymn-writers, in addition to books on lacemaking and shoemaking, and the ballads of Bucks and Northants. He also published a number of novels and volumes of verse.

The cremation will be at Golders Green to-morrow. No flowers or mourning.


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