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John Meade Falkner Biography

(1858–1932), Handbook for Travellers in Oxfordshire, Handbook for Berkshire, Bath in History and Social Tradition

university noble honorary oxford

British novelist and topographical writer, born in Wiltshire, educated at Oxford University. He worked as a tutor to the children of Sir Alfred Noble, a partner in Armstrong's, the Newcastle armaments company. He was later Noble's secretary and was chairman of Armstrong's from 1915 to 1921. In 1925 he became Honorary Librarian at Durham Cathedral and Honorary Reader in Palaeography at the city's university. The first of his books to appear was Handbook for Travellers in Oxfordshire (1894); Handbook for Berkshire (1902) and Bath in History and Social Tradition (1918) are among his other topographical works, which draw directly on the antiquarian interests reflected in his fiction. The Lost Stradivarius (1896), a complex narrative of the supernatural, features detailed depictions of Oxford and Naples. Moonfleet (1898), which centres on smuggling along the Dorset coast, remains popular as an adventure story for younger readers. His most highly regarded novel is The Nebuly Coat (1903), an imaginatively disquieting account of an architect who is drawn into a murder investigation while conducting church restoration work. Poems (1930), the only collection of his verse, is memorable for its wistfully elegiac adaptations of ballad forms.

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