Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Prefatory Note

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The present Supplement has been undertaken by Mrs. George M. Smith, now the proprietor of the Dictionary of National Biography, and has been edited by Sir Sidney Lee. It furnishes biographies of noteworthy persons who died between 22 Jan. 1901 and 31 Dec. 1911. The former date was the day of Queen Victoria's death, and the First Supplement, which was published in the autumn of 1901, brought the record of national biography down to that limit. The bounds are now extended by nearly eleven years. The new volumes treat exclusively of those whom death has qualified for admission within the prescribed period.

When the present Supplement was planned the death of King Edward VII was not anticipated. Among the great names which the present volume includes, that of the late King is bound to attract chief attention. His memoir, like that of Queen Victoria in the First Supplement, is from the pen of the Editor.[1] It is an attempt made it is believed for the first time to co-ordinate the manifold activities of the sovereign in a just historic and biographic spirit. To the information which is already scattered through numerous published sketches and books of reminiscence at home and abroad much has been added, through the courtesy of those associated with the late King, from unpublished and unwritten sources. It is hoped that the result will be to remove some widely disseminated misapprehensions and to furnish some new and authentic elucidations. Although the article is shorter than that on Queen Victoria, it is on a larger scale than is habitual to the Dictionary. But the prominent place which the late King filled for half a century in the nation's public life, both before and after his accession, seemed, in the absence of a full record elsewhere, to compel a treatment which should be as exhaustive and authoritative as the writer's knowledge allowed, with due regard to the recent dates of the events.

The late King had a personal relation with the Dictionary which, apart from other considerations, calls in its pages for the tribute of an adequate memoir. On 25 May 1900, on the eve of the publication of the sixty-third and last volume of the substantive work, the late King, then Prince of Wales, honoured with his presence a private dinnerparty given to congratulate the late Mr. George M. Smith, the public spirited projector, proprietor, and publisher of the undertaking, on its completion.[2] He then spoke with his customary grace and charm of his interest in the Dictionary, and he afterwards expressed in a letter to the Editor the satisfaction which the meeting gave him. On 25 October 1901, the day of the publication of the last volume of the First Supplement, the King furthermore sent a letter of congratulation 'on the final completion of this great work.' Finality is no attribute of a record of national biography, but in the late King's lifetime the Dictionary came to a close with its First Supplement. It will now stand completed with its Second Supplement.

In February 1902 his late Majesty was pleased to accept from Mrs. George M. Smith a complete set of the volumes, which he placed in his private library at Sandringham. In acknowledging the gift the King's secretary wrote that His Majesty, who regarded the work as 'one of the highest interest and utility,' would ' always value Mrs. Smith's kind present as a memento' of the late George Smith, 'who did so much for literature, and whose acquaintance it was a satisfaction to His Majesty to remember to have made.'

The number of names in the present Supplement reaches a total of 1660, of which 500 appear in this volume and the remainder fill two succeeding volumes. The contributors to this volume number 166.

The principles of selection and treatment are those with which students of the Dictionary are already familiar. Special care has been taken to make the genealogical data uniform and precise, and to give full particulars of memorial foundations, and of portraits whether painted or in sculpture.

The sources of biographical knowledge in the case of these whose careers have very recently closed differ from the sources in the case of those who belonged to more or less remote generations. In the interests of accuracy and completeness it has been necessary here to test and supplement previous notices—often inaccurate and incomplete—in the press or elsewhere, by application to living representatives and associates. The thanks of the Editor and contributors are due to the many hundred persons who have corrected current errors from private knowledge or have supplied information which has not hitherto been published. The readiness with which such co-operation has been given calls for very warm acknowledgment. The service has invariably been rendered without any conditions which might tend to impair the essential independence of the Dictionary. Officials of public institutions of every kind have also been most generous in their assistance, and have offered welcome proof of their anxiety to make the Dictionary authentic at all points.

In agreement with the principle of the Dictionary the memoirs embrace comprehensively all branches of the nation's and the empire's activity. In any endeavour to classify the vocations of the persons commemorated, allowance must be made for the circumstance that in a certain proportion of cases the same person has gained distinction in more fields than one. If the chief single claim to notice be alone admitted in each instance, the callings of those whose careers are described in this volume may be broadly catalogued under ten general headings thus:

Administration of Government at home, in India, and the colonies  53
Army and navy  44
Art (including architecture, music, and the stage)  70
Commerce and agriculture  17
Law  19
Literature (including journalism, philology, philosophy, printing, and lexicography) 115
Religion  54
Science (including engineering, medicine, surgery, and exploration)  86
Social Reform (including philanthropy and education)  34
Sport   8

The names of twenty-five women appear in this volume, on account of services rendered in art, literature, science, and social or educational reform.

Articles bear the initials of their writers save in a very few cases where material has been furnished to the Editor on an ampler scale than the purpose of the undertaking permitted him to use. In such instances the Editor and his staff are solely responsible for the shape which the article has taken, and no signature is appended.

In preparing this Supplement the Editor has enjoyed the advantage of the assistance of Mr. W. B. Owen, M.A., formerly scholar of St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, and of Mr. G. S. Woods, M.A., formerly exhibitioner of Exeter College, Oxford.

In the lists of authors' publications the date of issue is alone appended to the titles of works which were published in London in 8vo. In other cases the place of issue and the size are specifically indicated in addition.

Cross references are given thus: to names in the substantive work [q. v.]; to names in the First Supplement [q. v. Suppl. I]; and to names in the Second and present Supplement [q. v. Suppl. II].

  1. Mr. Lionel Cust, F.S.A., M.V.O., has added to the article an account of the portraits.
  2. Of the twenty-nine persons who were present on the occasion twelve, including the King and the late Mr. George M. Smith, have since passed away. All are now commemorated in the Dictionary. Memoirs of Mr. George M. Smith and of Mandell Oeighton, bishop of London, appeared in the First Supplement. The Second Supplement supplies notices of the rest, viz. King Edward VII, Lord Acton, Canon Ainger, Dr. Richard Garnett, Sir Richard Jebb, Mr. Joseph Knight, Mr W. E. H. Lecky, Sir Theodore Martin, Sir Leslie Stephen, and Sir Spencer Walpole.