Oswald Crawfurd

(1834—1909) writer and diplomatist

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(1834–1909) married, first, Margaret Ford (d. 1899), and, secondly (1902), Amelia Browne née von Flesch Brunningen. The son of a diplomat, Crawfurd was educated at Eton College and Merton College, Oxford, which he left without a degree. He went into the Foreign Office and was British consul in Oporto 1866–90. His first wife was the daughter of Richard Ford (1796–1858), the leading British expert on Spanish history and topography, and Crawfurd emulated his father-in-law by publishing books on Portugal, sometimes using the pseudonym ‘John Latouche’. As ‘John Dangerfield’ he wrote three novels in the 1870s; and as ‘George Windle Sandys’ Don Garcia in England (1879). He was director and managing director of Chapman & Hall, and the first editor of Chapman's Magazine of Fiction, whose opening volume (1895) includes work by George Gissing, Violet Hunt, Flora Annie Steel, and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (1852–1930). He was also first editor of the New Quarterly Magazine (1873). He engaged in a wide variety of miscellaneous literary work, editing anthologies and writing books on bridge. He collaborated with ‘Anthony Hope’ and Mrs Alfred Hunt (1831–1912) on Dialogues of the Day (1895). He was the lover of the latter's daughter Violet Hunt, and he is generally blamed for infecting her with the syphilis of which she died. During his affair with her, lasting most of the 1890s, he also had affairs with the wife of the publisher Frederic Chapman and with his future second wife, Mrs Ralph Browne, and (according to Hunt) attempted to seduce the novelist May Bateman. After his first wife's death Amelia Browne (known as ‘Lita’) obtained an uncontested divorce from her husband in 1902, and married Crawfurd. Afterwards they lived mostly abroad and he died in Montreux. Barbara Belford's biography of Hunt (1990) notes that after resigning from Chapman & Hall Crawfurd was short of money, and described what he was writing as ‘mostly rot’. The Sin of Prince Eladane (1903) is a verse drama set in Britain as the Romans depart. The League of the White Hand (1909) describes the actions of a society devoted to opposing ‘that growing and pestilent form of collectivism which chooses to call itself Socialism’. The League's agenda is aristocratic, anti-millionaire, anti-union, and pro-suffragette; its tactics include kidnapping. The secret society was fashionable in thrillers of the time; the immediate influence was perhaps Edgar Wallace, The Four Just Men (1905).

From The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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