FARJEON, Benjamin Leopold (1838-1903)

FARJEON, Benjamin Leopold (1838-1903)
the son of Jacob Farjeon and his wife Dinah, formerly Levy, was born in London in 1838. Both parents were Jewish by race and faith and were too poor to be able to give their son much education. When about 13 he went to work as printer's boy on the Nonconformist, a Christian journal, did much reading, and was helped in his self-education by a kindly schoolmaster. The boy broke away from the strict faith of his father, and partly on this account decided to go to Australia in 1854. An uncle bought him a steerage passage, and he arrived in Australia practically penniless. He obtained work, went to the diggings, and at once started a newspaper. Meeting with hard times he went to New Zealand in 1861, and obtained a position on the Otago Daily Times, the first daily paper established in New Zealand. (Sir) Julius Vogel was editor and part proprietor and Farjeon became manager and sub-editor. In 1865 he published his first book, Shadows on the Snow: a Christmas Story, dedicated it to Charles Dickens, sent him a copy and suggested that he might care to print it in All the Year Round. Dickens in May 1866 wrote him a kind but certainly not encouraging letter, but it was enough for Farjeon, who threw up his excellent prospects in New Zealand and returned to London, where in 1870 he made a reputation as a novelist with Grif: a Story of Australian Life. This was followed by about 50 other novels which will be found listed in E. Morris Miller's Australian Literature. The early books showed Farjeon to be a follower of Dickens, his later were often concerned with crime and mystery. His seven years in Australia made a deep impression on him, and many of his books have their setting in that country. He died at Hampstead, London, after a short illness on 23 July 1903. He married Margaret, daughter of Joseph Jefferson (q.v.), who survived him with three sons and a daughter. Of the children Herbert and Eleanor Farjeon became capable writers, especially in connexion with the drama, and Harry Farjeon a well-known musician and composer.
Farjeon was mercurial and unpredictable, except that he could always be relied upon to be kind and charitable. This is reflected in his books, and he was much touched to learn that one of them had suggested the founding of homes for orphans in the United States. His books had much popularity in their time, one of them, Grif, was in its seventeenth edition in 1898, but they belonged to their period and are gradually being forgotten.
Eleanor Farjeon, A Nursery in the Nineties, which gives a charming account of Farjeon's happy married life; E. Morris Miller, Australian Literature; The Times, 24 July 1903; Who's Who, 1943; Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • FARJEON, BENJAMIN LEOPOLD — (1838–1903), English novelist. Farjeon, who was born in London into an Orthodox family of North African origin, went to Australia at the age of 17. He eventually became editor and part owner of the first daily newspaper in New Zealand, the Otago… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Benjamin Farjeon — Benjamin Leopold Farjeon (12 May 1838 – 23 July 1903) was an English playwright, printer, journalist, and author, known for his huge output. Farjeon was born in London to Dinah Levy and Jacob Farjeon, Orthodox Jews. He was raised in Whitechapel… …   Wikipedia

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