The Life of John Payne

Thomas Wright

Author of “The Life of Sir Richard Burton,” “The Life of William Cowper,” etc.

With Nineteen Illustrations


First published in 1919

(All rights reserved)

TO F. B.
O. M. P. AND H. M. P.,


This work was commenced as early as 1905, and I was assisted in every possible way by Payne himself. His sisters, his executor, and Swinburne also helped me. It is founded largely on conversations with Payne (for I was careful every time I visited him to take down his Table Talk); his Autobiography (which is in my possession); ninety letters written by him to me; about sixty written to Mr. and Mrs. Tracy Robinson, Sir George and Lady Lewis, Mrs. Nix, and Mrs. Romeu; forty letters from Sir Richard Burton to Payne; forty-one letters that passed between Mrs. Snee and O’Shaughnessy or Payne and O’Shaughnessy, for which I am indebted to Mr. Clement Shorter and Mr. Thomas James Wise; and many letters written to Payne by Zotenberg, H. H. Furness and others. I have been helped in various ways by Mrs. Harry Payne, Mr. C. E. Lamb (Vincent House, Kettering), Mr. Austin H. Johnson (The Squire Law Library, Cambridge), Mr. St. Clair Baddeley, Mr. Cecil Floersheim, Mr. Alfred Forman (who sent the material in Appendix No. 2), General and Mrs. Heriot and Miss Heriot, Mr. de V. Payen-Payne (who lent the letters written by Payne to Ingram), Miss Emily Hickey (West Hill House, West Hill, S.W.), Mrs. J. T. Nettleship (widow of Payne’s friend), Mr. J. F. S. Jackson (1 Bellevue Terrace, Dolly Mount, Dublin), Mr. John Kettelwell, Mr. A. W. Oke, Messrs. Sotheby (34 New Bond Street), Mr. Malcolm Salaman, Mr. R. S. Garnett, Miss Ellen R. Garnett, Mr. R. H. Caunter, Mrs. Mary Dean and Miss Brereton (Payne’s nurse). Messrs. Maggs (34 Conduit Street, New Bond Street) and Mr. Francis Edwards (83A High Street, Marylebone) kindly allowed me to copy many letters in their possession. Mr. Wise kindly permits me to use various Swinburne letters. Mrs. Arnull lent me a large packet of letters written to her by her father, Mr. Snee. My wife corrected the proofs. To all who have helped me I tender most hearty thanks. It would be ungracious of me also not to mention that I am indebted to Mr. T. Fisher Unwin and Mr. W. H. Chesson for very helpful suggestions. Lastly, it is pleasant to remember that the aged Mr. William Rossetti (brother of Dante Gabriel and Christina) wrote to me only a few days before his death in order to send “all good wishes” for my book.



16 May, 1919


  1. Boyhood and Early Manhood, 1842–1861
  2. In a Solicitor’s Office, 1862–1866
  3. “The Masque of Shadows,” 1867–1870
  4. The Rising Poet, 1871–1872
  5. Trial of Mrs. Snee. “Villon” and “New Poems,” 1873–1880
  6. The “Arabian Nights,” 1881–1882
  7. “Tales from the Arabic,” 1883–12 Sept. 1885
  8. “Boccaccio,” 12 Sept. 1885–1886
  9. “Bandello” and “Omar Kheyyam,” 1887–1898
  10. The Valley of the Shadow of Hafiz, 1899–1901
  11. “Collected Poems.” “Vigil and Vision,” 1902–1903
  12. Commencement of my Friendship with Payne, 1904
  13. The Year 1905
  14. “Flowers of France, The Romantic Period,” 1906
  15. “Flowers of France, The Renaissance,” 1907
  16. “Carol and Cadence,” 1908
  17. “Flower o’ the Thorn,” 1909
  18. “Heine,” 1910–1911
  19. Table Talk of the Year 1912. “The Way of the Winepress” (unpublished)
  20. “Flowers of France, The Latter Days,” 1913
  21. His Last Days, 1914–1916


  1. Bibliography of John Payne
  2. Number of Copies of John Payne’s Works Printed
  3. The John Payne Society