Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Kitton, Frederick George

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KITTON, FREDERICK GEORGE (1856–1904), writer on Dickens, born at Golding Street, Heigham, Norwich, on 5 May 1856, was son of Frederick Kitton, tobacconist, who made some reputation as a microscopist. His mother's maiden name was Mary Spence. Coming to London at seventeen to follow the occupation of an artist and wood-engraver, he served as apprentice on the staff of the 'Graphic' He attained much skill as an etcher, and contributed to artistic journals. Inheriting from his father a capacity for research, he soon turned to literary pursuits. With the exception of a few minor efforts, including memoirs of Hablot K. Browne (1882), of John Leech (1883), and of his father (1895), he mainly devoted himself with immense zeal to illustrating the life and works of Charles Dickens, in a long series of books, the chief of which were: 'Dickensiana, a bibliography of the literature relating to Charles Dickens and his writings' (1886); 'Charles Dickens by Pen and Pencil' (1890); 'Dickens and his Illustrators' (1899); 'Charles Dickens, his Life, Writings, and Personality' (1901), in which he supplemented Forster's biography; and 'The Dickens Country,' published posthumously (1905; 2nd edit. 1911). He also annotated the 'Rochester' edition of Dickens's works (1900), and at the time of his death he was working for a New York publisher upon the costly 'Autograph,' or 'Millionaire's,' edition, and with Mr. M. H. Spielmann on a like edition of Thackeray.

Kitton was one of the founders, and an active member of, the Dickens Fellowship, and compiled the catalogue of the Dickens Exhibition (1903).

From 1888 Kitton lived at St. Albans, where he helped to procure the purchase for the Hertfordshire County Museum of the Sir John Evans collection of books, manuscripts, drawings, etc., relating to the county; these he catalogued and arranged. Besides writing much on St. Albans and its neighbourhood, he helped to save from destruction many old buildings. Kitton died at St. Albans on 10 Sept. 1904, and was buried there. In 1889 he married Emily Clara, second daughter of H. A. Lawford, C.E., but had no children. His large Dickens library was purchased from his widow by a subscription organised by the Dickens Fellowship, as a nucleus for a national Dickens library, and was formally presented to the Guildhall Library by Lord James of Hereford on 7 Feb. 1908.

[Memoir by Arthur Waugh in The Dickensian, 1895, prefixed to Kitton's posthomous The Dickens Country, 1905; Athenæum, 17 Sept. 1904; Academy, lxvii. 192. 226 (article by Walter Jerrold); Hertfordshire Standard, 16 Sept. 1904; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Cat. of Guildhall Lib.]

C. W.