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Surtees, Robert Smith

SURTEES, ROBERT SMITH (1803-1864), English novelist and sporting writer, was the second son of Anthony Surtees of Hamsterley Hall, a member of an old Durham family. Educated to be a solicitor, Surtees soon began to contribute to the Sporting Magazine, and in 1831 he published a treatise on the law relating to horses and particularly the law of warranty, entitled The Horseman's Manual. In the following year he helped to found the New Sporting Magazine, of which he was the editor for the next five years. To this periodical he contributed between 1832 and 1834 the papers which were afterwards collected and published in 1838 as Jorrocks's Jaunts and Jollities. This humorous narrative of the sporting experiences of a cockney grocer, which suggested the more famous Pickwick Papers of Charles Dickens, is the work by which Surtees is chiefly remembered, though his novel Handley Cross, published in 1843, in which the character of " Jorrocks " is reintroduced as a master of fox-hounds, also enjoyed a wide popularity. The former of these two books was illustrated by "Phiz" (H. K. Browne), and the latter, as well as most of Surtees's subsequent novels, by John Leech, whose pictures of " Jorrocks " are everywhere familiar and were the chief means of ensuring the lasting popularity of that humorous creation. In 1838, on the death of his father, Surtees, whose elder brother had died in 1831, inherited the family property of Hamsterley Hall, where he lived for the rest of his life. The later novels by Surtees included Hillingdon Hall (1845), in which " Jorrocks " again appears; Hawbuck Grange (1847); Mr Sponge's Sporting Tour (1853); Ask Mamma (1858); Plain or Ringlets? (1860); Mr Facey Romford's Hounds (1865). The last of these novels appeared after the author's death, which occurred on the 16th of March 1864. In 1841 he married Elizabeth Jane, daughter of Addison Fenwick of Bishopwearmouth, by whom he had one son and two daughters, the younger of whom, Eleanor, in 1885 married John Prendergast Vereker, afterwards 5th Viscount Gort.

See R. S. Surtees, Jorrocks's Jaunts and Jollities (London, 1869), containing a biographical memoir of the author; W. P. Frith, John Leech, His Life and Work (2 vols., London, 1891); Samuel Halkett and J. Laing, Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous Literature of Great Britain (4 vols., Edinburgh, 1882-1888).

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

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