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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Julius Beerbohm in a painting by Anders Zorn

Julius Beerbohm (1854-1906) was a Victorian travel-writer, engineer and explorer.

He was the son of Julius Ewald Edward Beerbohm (1811–1892),[1] of Dutch, Lithuanian, and German origin, who had come to England in about 1830 and set up as a prosperous corn merchant.[1] He married an Englishwoman, Constantia Draper, and the couple had four children. Julius Beerbohm's older brother was the renowned actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree; his sister was author Constance Beerbohm. A younger half-brother was the caricaturist and parodist Max Beerbohm.[1] His half-sister Agnes Mary Beerbohm (1865-1949), who became Mrs Ralph Neville in 1884, was a friend of the artist Walter Sickert and modelled for him in his 1906 painting Fancy Dress.[2] His nieces were Viola, Felicity and Iris Tree.


Travels in Patagonia

A European engineer, Beerbohm travelled to Patagonia in 1877 as part of a group sent to survey the land between Port Desire and Santa Cruz. His 1881 book Wanderings in Patagonia; or, Life among the Ostrich Hunters is the account of the time he spent there. In the book he vividly describes the natural history and geography of the country which he labeled 'the last of nature's works'.[3]

Beerbohm traveled across deserts and through jungles with the native Indians, the people Ferdinand Magellan had come upon in 1520 when he discovered the country.[3][4] Beerbohm details a trek through this notoriously hostile terrain and overcomes snowstorms and mutiny, survives a flood and encounters "ostrich" hunters, puma, and swans. A rank amateur, Beerbohm had no previous knowledge of the land, its flora and fauna. Fortunately, for the most part of the journey he traveled with several old hands at ostrich hunting: the memorable Isidro, the Frenchman Guillaume, and the Austrian Maximo.[3]

Most memorable are the several chapters in which the group is stuck on the north side of the Rio Gallegos which was experiencing a severe flood. The group split up, with Beerbohm and Guillaume venturing a dangerous crossing, which almost drowned Beerbohm. When they finally arrived in Sandy Point, the local prison, along with its military guard, mutinied, got drunk, and took over the town, killing many of its citizens.[3]


In a volume of reminiscences collected on the death of Herbert Beerbohm Tree by Max Beerbohm, Herbert's widow Helen Maud Tree recalled Julius:

"It was in the autumn of 1882 that I first met Julius, (Herbert's younger brother (Max, their half-brother was then a little boy of ten). Julius was a brilliant creature, exquisite and elusive: a poet and a dreamer. His poetry was of the soul: his dreams, alas! were of the earth. He was a potential millionaire, and from time to time, one would have said, an actual one. But, over and over again, some bright El Dorado would fade before his vision. Fortunes came quickly, and as quickly were engulfed in new and glittering enterprises. Throughout his eager, hunted life triumph and disaster followed one another in quick succession; but I never saw him - even when misfortunes were huddling on his back - otherwise than calm, perfectly accoutred and equipped, fastidious, fantastic, fsacinating and debonair. When I first knew him he was either engaged to that graceful and gracious being, Mrs Younghusband, or they were just married. He brought her, Evelyn, to see us at Old Burlington Street. She had (has to this day) great beauty, charm and distinction, a lovely way of speaking, lovely manners, and a gentle and rare disposition. After their marriage, they lived in great splendour at Almond's Hotel, and I remember dinner parties where not the decoration but the tablecloth itself was fashioned of Parma violets, and where food and wine were of the nature of a Sybarite's feast. After such Lucullus' feasts, we would sometimes repair to our rooms, where Julius would make me sing "Crépuscule," and where he would also sing, read us his poems or tell us stories of his travels. His was an enchanting personality, and Herbert's pride and joy in him were immense. In their stern and cruel school-days Herbert had been the stronger of the two, the most able to endure; therefore his had been the task to temper hardships to his little brother; and who would accomplish this task so tenderly or with such love and understanding as Herbert? Both brothers, while remembering with delight the beauty of the Thuringian land in spring and summer, recalled with shuddering dislike the iron system of their German school."[5]

He had his linen sent from his London home to Paris to be washed.[5][6] Beerbohm's Patagonia sketches provided the basis for the illustrations for Lady Florence Dixie's Across Patagonia (1881).[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Google Books listing Max Beerbohm: a Biography, by David Cecil - Houghton Mifflin, 1965
  2. ^ Google Books Listing Baron, Wendy 'Sickert: Paintings and Drawings' Published by Yale University Press (206) pg 315 ISBN 0300111290
  3. ^ a b c d Google Books Listing Beerbohm, Julius 'Wanderings in Patagonia, or, Life among the Ostrich Hunters' Chatto & Windus, London (1881)
  4. ^ Google Books Listing The life of Ferdinand Magellan, and the first circumnavigation of the globe by Francis Henry Hill Guillemard
  5. ^ a b Beerbohm, Max (Reprint, 2008). pp. 10-11
  6. ^ Johnson, Paul 'Languid in life, quick on the draw' - Paul Johnson on Max Beerbohm: A Kind of a Life The Independent October 13 2002
  7. ^ Dixie, Lady Florence 'Across Patagonia' with Illustrations from Sketches by Julius Beerbohm Published by R. Worthington, New York (1881)


  • Beerbohm, Max. Herbert Beerbohm Tree - Some Memories of Him and of His Art Collected by Max Beerbohm.  

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