Author:John Rowland Fothergill
Brief Biographical Details
John Rowland Fothergill was born in Kent in 1876 and died in Rugby in 1957. A devotee and close friend of Oscar Wilde and Robert Ross, he left the dilettante / homosexual life style behind for romantic affairs with women. He was painted several times as a young man, twice married , his second wife, Kate bore him two sons, John and Anthony Fothergill. He was first married to the little known artist Elsie Doris Gillian Herring, they were divorced in 1921. Elsie lived and died in Rome.
As a young man Fothergill was associated with the Slade College of Art, Chelsea, together with the many promising artistic men and women of the turn of the century including Augustus John, Jacob Epstein and William Rothenstein, He subsequently formed the Carfax Gallery with Rothenstein, this ran for several years with exhibitions featuring many up and coming artists who later became well established and whose work became much sought after.
Fothergill had attachments to the Welsh landscape painter James Dickson Innes, who died in 1914 at the age of just 27. Later Fothergill wrote a touching forward to a book of Innes’ works.
Descended from the Fothergills of Westmoreland and the 'tin plate' Fothergills of Caerleon, South Wales John Fothergill carved out his own place in life and remains one of the great one-off characters of the era of the Bright Young Things and beyond. His culinary skills and reputation changed dining standards in Britain, making it in itself a high art.
John Rowland Fothergill was always his own invention, a snob, an Innkeeper, a chef, food and wine connoisseur, author, artist, bully and Wit.
Fothergill ran the ’Spread Eagle’ at Thame, later managed the ‘Royal Ascot Hotel’ and lastly the ‘ Three Swans’ at Market Harborough, his life as an Innkeeper was almost four decades long, from the 1920s-1950s. The ‘Spread Eagle’ is mentioned by Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited, Waugh was a regular frequenter of Fothergill’s hospitality. Fothergill was the author of “An Inkeeper’s Diary”, “Confessions of an Innkeeper”, “ My Three Inns “and the “ Fothergill Omnibus”, the latter was also published as “ Mr Fothergill’s Plot”. He also produced a book on gardening and wrote book reviews.
Fothergill is rightly celebrated in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography in a wonderful tribute by Hilary Rubinstein. A colourful array of anecdotes about him appear in several memoirs of the generation of notable men and women in the era of the 1920s and 1930s.
The Society writer/ biographer William Cross, FSA Scot is appraising Fothergill for a new biographical sketch. Cross also plans to offer illustrated talks on Fothergill with quotations from off the great man's own words in the Innkeeper series of books.
- The Slade; a collection of drawings and some pictures done by past and present students of the London Slade School of Art, MDCCCXCIII-MDCCCCVII (1907) (Editor and contributor)
- An Innkeeper's Diary (1931)
- Confessions of an Innkeeper (1938)
- My Three Inns (1949)
- (in part)