Rose, George (1817-1882) (DNB00)

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ROSE, GEORGE (1817–1882), dramatist, novelist, and humorous entertainer, who wrote under the name of 'Arthur Sketchley,' born in London on 19 May 1817, was second son of James Rose of St. Clement Danes, by his wife, Sophia Scadgell. After attending Mr. Hook's academy in Chelsea, George began life as clerk at the custom-house, but, determining to become a clergyman, entered Magdalen Hall, Oxford, as a commoner in May 1841, at the unusually mature age of twenty-four. He graduated B.A. on 13 Nov. 1845, and M.A. on 30 June 1848, and was ordained at Lambeth. Subsequently he travelled with his parents in Italy, visiting Naples and Palermo. On his return home he undertook a curacy at Camberwell, where he became noted for his short and practical sermons. For a brief time he acted as curate of Christ Church, Hoxton, and as assistant reader at the Temple (October 1851), occupying his leisure by coaching students for the army. The Oxford movement shook his faith in the church of England, and on 1 Nov. 1855 he joined the Roman catholic church. From 1858 to 1863 he was tutor to the Earl of Arundel and Surrey, who succeeded his father as fifteenth Duke' of Norfolk on 25 Nov. 1860.

Thenceforth Rose adopted a literary career. He had, as early as 1851, adapted for the English stage a popular French drama called 'Pauline.' Charles Kean played the hero in Rose's version with great success. On 3 Jan. 1863 Rose produced, at the St. James's Theatre, under the management of Frank Matthews, a second drama, entitled 'The Dark Cloud,' and at the same house, on 18 Aug. 1864, his three-act comedy of 'How will they get out of it?' which was acted under Benjamin Webster's management. Charles Mathews appeared as Percy Wylding, and Mrs. Stirling (afterwards Lady Gregory) as Mrs. Tiverton.

In 'Routledge's Annual' for 1866 Rose published, under the pseudonym of 'Arthur Sketchley,' the first of his numerous monologues purporting to be the views on current topics of an illiterate old woman of the lower middle class whom he named 'Mrs. Brown.' Mrs. Brown is an obvious adaptation of Dickens's Mrs. Gamp. His earliest effort Rose entitled 'How Mrs. Brown spent Christmas Day.' He developed his whimsical design in a series of similar sketches contributed to 'Fun,' and they were reissued from time to time in volume form, until they numbered in all thirty-two volumes. They profess to portray, according to their titles, 'Mrs. Brown's Visit to the Paris Exhibition' (1867), 'Mrs. Brown at the Seaside' (1868), 'in London' (1869), 'in the Highlands' (1869), 'up the Nile' (1869), 'at the Play' (1870), 'on the Grand Tour' (1870), 'on the Battle of Dorking' (1871), 'at the International Exhibition and at South Kensington' (1872), 'on the new Liquor Law' (1872), 'on the Alabama Claims' (1872), 'on the Tichborne Case' (1872), 'on Woman's Rights' (1872), 'on the Shah's Visit' (1873), 'on the Tichborne Defence' (1873), 'on Disraeli' (1874), 'at Margate' (1874), 'on the Royal Russian Marriage' (1874), 'at the Crystal Palace' (1875), 'at Brighton' (1875), 'on the Skating Rink' (1875), 'on the Spelling Bees' (1876), 'on Co-operative Stores' (1879), 'on Home Rule' (1881), on 'Jumbo' (1882), and 'on Cetewayo' (1882). Two other volumes were entitled respectively 'The Brown Papers' (1870), and 'Mrs. Brown's Christmas Box' (1870).

Meanwhile, in 1867, Rose brought out a sketch called 'Miss Tomkins's Intended,' and travelled in America. In 1868 he published a record of his tour, entitled 'The Great Country, or Impressions of America,' which he 'affectionately inscribed' to his former pupil, the Duke of Norfolk. In 1870 he produced another book of travels a description of Cook's Excursion through Switzerland and Italy entitled 'Out for a Holiday,' and another drawing-room drama called 'Money makes the Man.' Two novels followed: 'A Match in the Dark' (2 vols. 1878), and 'A Marriage of Conscience' (3 vols. 1879).

Rose invented an attractive entertainment by reading in public portions of his 'Mrs. Brown' monologues. Between June 1879 and December 1880 he made a tour round the world as an entertainer on these lines, and passed in succession through South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and so, westwards, through India, home. During his last years he grew abnormally stout. He died suddenly of heart disease on 11 Nov. 1882 at his residence, 96 Gloucester Place, London, W. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Thomas at Fulham. He was unmarried. An admirable portrait is in the library of Norfolk House, St. James's Square.

[Personal recollections; Sketch by Mr. Clement Scott prefixed to a reprint, in 1886, of Mrs. Brown on Home Rule; Tablet and Weekly Register, 18 Nov. 1882; Annual Register, 1882; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886.]

C. K.