Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Huth, Alfred Henry

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HUTH, ALFRED HENRY (1850–1910), bibliophile, born in London on 14 Jan. 1850, was second son of Henry Huth [q. v.] and of Augusta, third daughter of Frederick Westenholz of Waldenstein Castle, Austria. When not quite twelve years old, Huth was taken, with an elder brother, from a private school at Carshalton, to travel in the East under the care of Henry Thomas Buckle [q. v.], the historian. The tour, which began on 20 Oct. 1861, was broken by the death of Buckle at Damascus on 29 May 1862, and Huth's education was continued less adventurously at Rugby in 1864, and afterwards at the University of Berlin. On 16 Jan. 1872 he married his first cousin, Octavia, fourth and youngest daughter of Charles Frederick Huth, his father's eldest brother. Possessed of an ample fortune, and devoting himself to study and collecting he published in 1875 his first book, a study of 'The Marriage of Near Kin' (2nd edit. 1887), following it in 1880 by an account in two volumes of 'The Life and Writings of Henry Thomas Buckle,' written with considerable vivacity and containing an attack on Buckle's fellow traveller, John Stuart Stuart Glennie, which the latter answered in the 'Athenæum ' and in the third edition (1880) of his 'Pilgrim-Memories.' After the death of his father in 1878 the fine library which he had formed passed into the possession of Alfred Huth, who saw to its completion in 1880 the catalogue which his father had begun to print. The care and augmentation of the collection formed one of his chief interests to the end of his life. He became a member (subsequently treasurer and vice-president) of the Roxburghe Club, and in 1888 contributed to its publications an edition of a manuscript in his own possession, 'The Miroure of Mans Saluacionne,' an English fifteenth-century verse translation of the 'Speculum Humanae Saluationis.' The next year he published a verse translation of the first part of Goethe's 'Faust' in language 'partly Jacobean, partly modern' and closely literal. Of this a second edition, much revised, was published in 1911. In 1892 he took part in founding the Bibliographical Society, acting as its first treasurer and subsequently as president. During these years he lived at Bolney House, Ennismore Gardens, but subsequently removed to Fosbury Manor, near Hungerford. In 1894 he published anonymously 'A True Relation of the Travels and Perilous Adventures of Mathew Dudgeon, Gentleman: wherein is truly set down the Manner of his Taking, the Long Time of his Slavery in Algiers, and Means of his Delivery. Written by Himself, and now for the first time printed.' This Jacobean romance was presented with some attempt to reproduce the typographical characteristics of its period. In the same year he read before the Bibliographical Society a paper urging the compilation of 'a general catalogue of British works,' but the project proved too large to be carried out. Huth himself continued to work at his own collection, and at the time of his death on 14 Oct. 1910, from heart failure, while out shooting with a neighbour in Hampshire, he was engaged on a 'Catalogue of the Woodcuts and Engravings in the Huth Library,' which appeared posthumously. He was buried at Fosbury, Wiltshire. His wife survived him without issue.

By his will he directed that on the sale of his collection the trustees of the British Museum should have the right of selecting fifty volumes from it, a bequest acknowledged as of greater value to the Museum library than any received since that of Thomas Grenville [q. v.] in 1846. A sumptuous catalogue of the books thus chosen was published early in 1912. The Huth autographs and engravings were sold in June and July 1911, the former realising 13,081l., the latter 14,840l. The first portion of the library (A-B, and the Shakespeariana), sold in November 1911, fetched 50,821l., exclusive of the price paid for the Shakespeares, bought privately by Mr. W. A. Cochrane for presentation to Yale University, Newhaven, U.S.A. The sale of the second portion followed on 5-7 June 1912 and realised 30,169l. 15s. 6d.

In addition to the books named above, Huth wrote an article on 'The Fertilisation of Plants' in the 'Westminster Review' (October 1877), a pamphlet on the 'Employment of Women' (1882), and a memoir of his father for this Dictionary. He contributed also letters to 'The Times' on land legislation and on the death-duties, especially as to their inequitable incidence on collectors of rare books and works of art.

[Cat. of Huth Books in Brit. Mus. 1912; The Times, 18 and 19 Oct., 19 and 24 Dec. (Will) 1910; 17 Jan. 1911; private knowledge.]

A. W. P.