Richard Bagot


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(1860–1921) was the son of a Guards officer; his mother was a niece of the 5th Duke of Northumberland. Educated privately, he became private secretary to Sir Frederick Napier Broome (1842–96), Governor of Western Australia (1882–3). He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1881, but was highly critical of its institutions and practices. In his Casting of Nets (1901) the nets in question are those cast in the staunchly Protestant village of Abbotsbury by the staunchly Catholic wife of the local landowner. ‘The courage of the author is undisputed, and the ability and force with which he has denounced the unwarranted intrusion of the priest in domestic affairs cannot be overlooked,’ the Spectator commented rather grimly. In the same year, after having published pieces unsympathetic to Vatican politics, Bagot renounced his title as Knight of Honour of the Order of Malta. The Just and the Unjust (1902) also dwells on the turmoil arising from religious principles. Much of his later life was spent in Italy, about which he wrote such books as The Lakes of Northern Italy (1907) and Italians of Today (1912) and articles exploring the place of Italy in international affairs. For his services to Italy he was made a Grand Officer and Commendatore of the Order of the Crown of Italy in 1917. In the year before his death he inherited the family estate in Westmorland. Donna Diana (1902) is set in Rome, and concerns the romance, much impeded by intrigue, between the (Catholic) Italian heroine and a young (Protestant) Englishman who once saved her cousin's life. Love's Proxy (1904) has a rather more orthodox preoccupation with class and with sexual morality: the heroine is torn between her elderly husband, whom she starts by pitying and ends by loving, and a dashing politician. The Passport (1905) returns to Rome, and another troubled courtship, this time between two Italians. A Roman Mystery (1899) is a tale of hereditary insanity.

From The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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