Horace Pym: Wikis


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Horace Pym (2 July 1844 - 5 May 1896) was a confidential solicitor, book collector and the editor of the best-selling private journal of the Quaker writer, Caroline Fox: Memories of Old Friends, published in 1881.


Name, birth and parentage

He is more properly known as Horatio Noble Pym and sometimes as H.N. Pym, was born 2 July 1844. He was the son of Rev. William Wollaston Pym, Rector of Willian in Hertfordshire and his second wife, Edith Elizabeth Noble. [1].

Memories of Old Friends

He is famous for editing the twelve manuscript volumes of Journals of Caroline Fox, under the supervision of her sister, Anna Maria. In 1881 Smith, Elder & Co. published the selection as Memories of Old Friends; being extracts from the journals and letters of Caroline Fox of Penjerrick, Cornwall from 1835 to 1871, advertising the book in The Times for the Christmas Present market. [2] Despite the "extreme timidity" [3] with which he censored the text, the book was a surprise Victorian best-seller. A second edition was published the following year, with additional letters from J.S. Mill.

Family relations with the Falmouth Foxes

Pym married, successively to two of Caroline Fox's relations. On 12 September 1876 he married Sarah Juliet Backhouse, daughter of Edmund Backhouse and his wife, Juliet (daughter of Charles Fox, brother of Caroline's father, Robert Were Fox F.R.S.). There were three children, Julian (1877–1898), his brother Evelyn (1879–1971) and Juliet, who was born and died in 1880. Her mother, Sarah Juliet Pym, also died in 1880.

Horace Pym then married to Jane Hannah Fox, on 5 May 1881 daughter of Barclay Fox, Caroline's brother and his wife, Jane (sister of Edmund Backhouse, Pym's first wife's father). There were two daughters Juliet (1882–1905) and Yolande (1883–1928). [1]

Work as Confidential Solicitor

He practised as a confidential solicitor as the Principal of Thathams & Pym, 3 Fredericks Place, Old Jewry, London EC [4]

Pym as a person

Some anecdotes concerning Horace Pym and his family occur in the memoirs [5] of Thomas Anstey Guthrie [6] , the humorous writer (pen name "F. Anstey", who wrote the novel Vice Versa [7]) Guthrie describes him as a long-standing friend and a great raconteur. The Obituary in The Times (11 May 1896) asserts that he was greatly valued by his friends, who included some notable writers and painters. Among these was the writer and literary editor, James Payn, who was also literary advisor to Smith, Elder & Co.,[8]

In his beautiful home, "Foxwold" at Brasted near Sevenoaks in Kent, he had an excellent library. Horace Pym wrote a number of small books, which he had privately printed for his friends. Some of these, held by the British Library are listed below. He died on 5 May 1896. The Times Obituary states that "Himself a man of great cultivation and taste, he held in affection the great masters of English literature, reverencing in particular Charles Dickens and all that pertained to him . . . . Mr. Pym's death took place with a painful suddenness owing to an affection of the heart induced by Russian influenza."

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b The Peerage website
  2. ^ Smith, Elder & Co advertisements in The Times December 8, 1881 Page 12, Column B: "Now ready royal 8vo bound in half parchment. 21s.", and December 10, December 22, 1881 and in 1882: January 7, March 31, April 22, May 2, November 6 and in 1883: October 13, October 22, October 25, and on November 7, 1887 . There was also a Tauchnitz edition published (Bernhard Tauchnitz, Leipzig. 1882, First Tauchnitz edition. Collection of British Authors Vol. 2067-8. Two volumes in one. pp. 287, 288.) Offered for sale on www.abebooks.co.uk (accessed 30 August 2006)). The second edition was also published in Philadelphia in 1882 by Lippincott.
  3. ^ The journals of Caroline Fox, 1835–1871: a selection, ed. Wendy Monk. London, Paul Elek, (1972) ISBN 0-236-15447-8, The word "timidity" is taken from Wendy Monk's Introduction. Monk records contemporary complaints about the vigour of Pym's " red pencil". According to Monk, the manuscripts were burned after the Journals were published, so Monk's 1972 book is selected from Pym's original selection. After Monk's selection was published, the first volume of the Journals was found, covering 1832 to 1834, none of which Pym included in his selection. The volume is marked "HNP Dec 4/80", so we must assume that Pym saw the book. (Times Saturday Review, February 18, 1978: "Saved from the flames" by R.L.Brett.)
  4. ^ Times Obituary 11 May 1896 Page 3, Column C
  5. ^ A long retrospect (1936)
  6. ^ See ODNB: Douglas Woodruff, ‘Guthrie, Thomas Anstey (1856–1934)’, rev. Clare L. Taylor, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 21 June 2006
  7. ^ Vice Versa, or A Lesson to Fathers, 1882
  8. ^ ODNB article on George Murray Smith (1824-1901), giving an extensive history of Smith, Elder & Co. but does not mention Memories of old friends

Books by Horace Pym listed in the catalogue of the British Library

  • A Tour round my Book-shelves. 1891 (privately printed: 100 copies)
  • Chats in the Book-room. 1896 (privately printed)
  • PEPYS, Samuel. Excerpts from the Diary of Samuel Pepys. From the "Mynors Bright" edition. With an introduction by H.N. Pym 1889
  • FOX, Caroline. Memories of Old Friends; being extracts from the journals and letters of C. F. ... from 1835 to 1871. Edited by H. N. Pym. pp. xxvii. 355. Smith, Elder & Co.: London, 1882 [1881]. Available online at The Internet Archive
  • A mother's memoir : being a fragmentary sketch of the life of the late Edith Elizabeth Pym / by H. N. P. [i.e. Horace Noble Pym]. (Privately printed: 50 copies)
  • Odds and Ends at Foxwold. A guide for the inquiring guest ... Illustrated, etc. 1887 (privately printed)


External links

  • Much of his personal library was sold at Sotheby’s, London 23 April 1996. The catalogue includes "Aspects of a Victorian Bookman" by John Pym.


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