Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Warne, Frederick

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WARNE, FREDERICK (1825–1901), publisher, sixth and youngest son of the twelve children of Edmund Warne, builder, and of Matilda, daughter of R. A. Stannard, was born at Westminster on 13 Oct. 1825. Educated privately at Soho, he joined, at the age of fourteen, his brother, William Henry Warne (d. 1859), and his brother-in-law, George Routledge [q. v.], in the retail bookselling business which Routledge had founded in Ryder's Court, Leicester Square, in 1836. Routledge started a publishing business in 1843, and in 1851 Warne became a partner in the firm, which was then styled Routledge & Co.; the name was changed to Routledge, Warne & Routledge in 1858 on Routledge's son, Robert Warne Routledge, becoming a partner. From 1851 till 1865 Warne was largely identified with the success of the firm. In 1865, on the advice of the publisher George Smith, of Smith, Elder & Co., Warne began an independent publishing career at 15 Bedford Street, Strand (now Chandos House). There he was joined by Edward James Dodd (a lifelong friend and colleague at Routledge's), and by A. W. Duret, who left the firm of the Dalziel brothers to join him. An American branch was established in New York in 1881.

Warne effectively emulated Routledge's ambition to popularise good literature. In 1868 he inaugurated the ‘Chandos Classics,’ in which issue an edition of Shakespeare ultimately numbered 340,000 copies. Of the 154 volumes in the series, five million copies were sold. ‘Nuttall's Dictionary,’ which was originally published by Routledge, Warne & Routledge in 1863, was first issued by Warne in January 1867, when 668,000 copies were soon disposed of. In 1886 a fully revised edition appeared, of which the circulation approached by 1911 one million copies.

Warne was active in the publication of coloured picture books for children [see Evans, Edmund, Suppl. II]. He inaugurated a new era between 1870 and 1880 by his issue of the ‘Aunt Louisa toy books,’ which were followed by new editions of Edward Lear's ‘Book of Nonsense,’ by the children's books (1878–1885) of Randolph Caldecott [q. v.], and later by the works of Kate Greenaway [q. v. Suppl. II] and Mr. Walter Crane. In the field of fiction Warne issued Disraeli's novels before their transfer to Messrs. Longman in 1870 and published in London nearly all Mrs. Frances Hodgson Burnett's novels, including ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ (1886). He also first introduced to the English reading public the three American magazines, the ‘Century,’ ‘St. Nicholas,’ and ‘Scribner's.’

In 1895 Warne, with his partner Dodd, left the business (Duret had retired in 1879), and he was succeeded by his three surviving sons, Harold Edmund, William Fruing, and Norman (d. 1905). Throughout his career Warne combined enterprise and business capacity with a keen interest in good literature. He died at his residence, 8 Bedford Square, on 7 Nov. 1901, and was buried at Highgate. He married on 6 July 1852, Louisa Jane, daughter of William Fruing of St. Helier's, Jersey, and had issue seven sons and three daughters. Three sons and two daughters survived him. A portrait in oils of Warne, painted by Henry Stannard, R.I., is in the possession of a daughter, Miss Amelia Louisa Warne, at 19 Eton Villas, Haverstock Hill, N.W.

[The Times, 15 Nov. 1901; Publishers' Circular (with portrait), Literature, Athenæum, 16 Nov. 1901; information kindly supplied by Mr. W. Fruing Warne.]

W. B. O.