Mr. Frank Sidgwick, a publisher with a pleasant gift of light verse, died at his home atDallywaters, Keston, Kent, on Sunday, after a brief illness.His father, Arthur Sidgwick (brother of Henry, the philosopher, who married the sister of Arthur Balfour), was a Cambridge man who migrated to Oxford, where for several years he wasreader in Greek to the university. Frank, the eldest son, who was born on July 7, 1879, wasbrought up at Oxford in a household which tempered the academic routine with a lively senseof fun and a sturdy devotion to losing causes. From the Dragon School at Oxford he went, likehis father and uncle, to Rugby and Trinity College, Cambridge. Students of undergraduate journalism in the late nineties soon learned to look out for contributions signed
. They were varied in scope. Along with plenty of playful verse of astandard much above the average, there were the inevitable parodies of Kipling and otherfavourites, gaily fanciful paradigms of Greek irregular verbs, and, on the occasion of the Greek play in 1900, an essay in dramatic criticism in the style of Artemus Ward. The play was the
, and Sidgwick himself was the dignified leader of the chorus in a performancemade memorable by the queenly Clytemnestra of F. H. Lucas, the moving Cassandra of Mr. J.F. Crace, of Eton, and the ambitious Watchman of a future Secretary of State for India, E. S.Montagu.
s father and uncle had been famous classics at Trinity; other kinsmen, includingArchbishop Benson and his sons, had reached high academic honours. Frank had modestly toconfess that he was the sole member of his family to fail to achieve a first-class in the Tripos,though he had no difficulty winning the Chancellor
s Medal for English Verse in 1900. Onleaving Cambridge he served a five years
apprenticeship to publishing as junior partner to A.H. Bullen, the Elizabethan scholar who contributed many fine articles to the
Dictionary of National Biography.
In 1904 the firm embarked on a special edition of Shakespeare to beprinted in Stratford-on-Avon at the
Shakespeare Head Press.
If the undertaking brought notangible profit, it took the junior partner for considerable periods into the Warwickshirecountryside, to which he was devoted, and gave him leisure to produce a judicious text of themorality play
, and a sound critical study of George Wither, the seventeenth-centurypoet best known by his lyric beginning
Shall I wasting in despair.
In 1907, when his time with Bullen was up, he set up the existing firm of Sidgwick andJackson. Solidly grounded in the printing and other technical knowledge which a publisherrequires, he was content with a standard discerningly competent rather than commerciallycompetitive. Among other well known books the firm produced the poems of Rupert Brookeand the early narrative verse and plays of Mr. Masefield. Its restricted range of fiction includedthe novels of Miss Ethel Sidgwick, the publisher
s sister, which won their own public,
Who was Frank Sidgwick?
Thanks to Catherine Cooke, curator of the Sherlock Holmes Collection at London
sMarylebone Library, and
The Book of Life,
BSI, we are able to provide thefollowing obituary from
of London, August 15, 1939.
No doubt there is much more the obituary did not provide. One suggestive item is
the Double Crown Club: a dining club of printers, publishers, book designers andillustrators in London co-founded in 1924 by, among others, Frank Sidgwick and S.C. Roberts. Another early member at the time was Stanley Morison, the printer withwhom a chance meeting in New York in 1926 revived Christopher Morley
for the Sherlock Holmes stories.
More about the Double Crown Club connection.
Today the firm of Sidgwick and Jackson survives as part of Pan Macmillan, with
its imprint known for
Commercial and popular non-fiction with a strong personalityspecializing in high-profile biography and the history of popular culture. Featuresinclude the acclaimed Sidgwick Military list, supported by an association with theImperial War Museum and National Army Museum.
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