Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Turner, Charles Edward

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

TURNER, CHARLES EDWARD (1831–1903), Russian scholar, second son of John Alderson Turner of the legacy office, was born at King's Lynn on 21 Sept. 1831. He entered St. Paul's School on 9 Feb. 1843, and remained till August 1850. On 29 March 1854 he was admitted commoner at Lincoln College, Oxford. Although shy and reserved until he was drawn out in congenial company, he took a prominent part in his College Debating Society, where he showed an exceptional knowledge of European politics. On leaving Oxford without graduating he worked for three years as a schoolmaster. In 1859 he went to Russia, and in 1862 was elected, after competitive examination, professor of English literature at the Imperial Alexander Lyceum in St. Petersburg. In 1864 he was, again by competitive examination, appointed lector of the English language in the Imperial University of St. Petersburg. That post he held for life. On occasional visits to England he frequently lectured on Russian literature. He was highly respected both by the British colony in St. Petersburg and by Russian friends and colleagues. He died at St. Petersburg on 14 Aug. 1903, and was buried in the Smolensk cemetery, St. Petersburg. A monument to his memory, raised by public subscription, was unveiled by his successor, Mr. William Sharpe Wilson, in 1905. He was married, but had no issue.

Turner became intimately acquainted with Russian life and literature, and in his writings on Russian literature showed sound critical judgment and a grasp of its history. In 1881 he lectured at the Royal Institution in London on ‘Famous Russian Authors,’ which he published in 1882 in amplified form as ‘Studies in Russian Literature.’ Other courses of lectures at the same place treated of ‘Russian Life’ (in 1883) and of ‘Count Tolstoi as Novelist and Thinker’ (in 1888). The latter course was published in amplified form in the same year. In 1889 he lectured at the Taylorian Institute in Oxford on ‘The Modern Novelists of Russia,’ which he amplified for publication in 1890. In 1893 he issued a translation of C. A. Behrs' ‘Recollections of Count Leo Tolstoy,’ and in 1899, simultaneously in London and St. Petersburg, a volume of excellent ‘Translations from Pushkin in Memory of the Hundredth Anniversary of the Poet's Birthday.’ Besides these works he published in St. Petersburg: 1. ‘Our Great Writers, a Course of Lectures on English Literature,’ two volumes, 1865. 2. ‘Lessons in English Literature,’ two parts, 1870. 3. ‘Principal Rules of English Grammar,’ 1879. 4. ‘English Reading Book,’ 1891. 5. ‘Robert Burns,’ 1896. 6. ‘English Writers of the Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, Coleridge, Keats, Moore, Crabbe,’ 1897. 7. ‘Robert Browning's “Sordello,”’ 1897. The three last appeared only in Russian translations from Turner's English MSS. A translations of Turgénev's ‘On the Eve’ appeared in 1871.

[Athenæum, 29 Aug. 1903; Foster's Alumni Oxon.; Lincoln College Register; private information.]

N. F.