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Furnivall, Frederick James

FURNIVALL, FREDERICK JAMES (1825-1910), English philologist and editor, was born at Egham, Surrey, on the 4th of February 1825, the son of a surgeon. He was called to the bar in 1849, but his attention was soon diverted to philological studies and social problems. He gave Frederick Denison Maurice valuable assistance in the Christian Socialist movement, and was one of the founders of the Working Men's College. For half a century he indefatigably promoted the study of early English literature, partly by his own work as editor, and still more efficaciously by the agency of the numerous learned societies of which he was both founder and director, especially the Early English Text Society (1864), which has been of inestimable service in promoting the study of early and middle English. He also established and conducted the Chaucer, Ballad, New Shakespeare and Wyclif Societies, and at a later period societies for the special study of Browning and Shelley. He edited texts for the Early English Text Society, for the Roxburghe Club and the Rolls Series; but his most important labours were devoted to Chaucer, whose study he as an editor greatly assisted by his "Six-Text" edition of the Canterbury Tales, and other publications of the Chaucer Society. He was the honorary secretary of the Philological Society, and was one of the original promoters of the Oxford New English Dictionary. He co-operated with its first editor, Herbert Coleridge, and after his death was for some time principal editor during the preliminary period of the collection of material. The completion of his half-century of labour was acknowledged in 1900 by a handsome testimonial, including the preparation by his friends of a volume of philological essays specially dedicated to him, An English Miscellany (Oxford, 1901), and a considerable donation to the Early English Text Society. Dr Furnivall was always an enthusiastic oarsman, and till the end kept up his interest in rowing; with John Beesley in 1845 he introduced the new type of narrow sculling boat, and in 1886 started races on the Thames for sculling fours and sculling eights. He died on the 2nd of July 1910.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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