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A. J. A. Symons (Alphonse James Albert Symons) Biography

(1900–41), (Alphonse James Albert Symons), Anthology of ‘Nineties’ Verse

British biographer and bibliophile, born in London; he left school at the age of 14. His involvements in book-dealing led him to establish the First Editions Club in 1922, which he ran until his death. An authority on the literature and bibliography of the 1890s, he produced his widely read Anthology of ‘Nineties’ Verse in 1928. Through his bibliographical activities he developed a compelling interest in F. W. Rolfe (‘Baron Corvo’); The Quest for Corvo: An Experiment in Biography (1934), his best-known work, advanced biography through its strategy of making the author a principal protagonist in an investigative narrative. He failed to complete his ambitious biography of Oscar Wilde, parts of which appear in Essays and Biographies (1969), edited by his brother Julian Symons. He also wrote short biographies of H. M. Stanley (1928) and Emin Pasha (1933) and produced numerous penetrating essays on other figures whose idiosyncratic characters appealed to him. He was a founding member of the Sette of Odde Volumes Dining Club, to which he addressed a number of his essays. Julian Symons's A. J. A. Symons: His Life and Speculations was published in 1950.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: St Juliot Cornwall to Rabindranath Tagore Biography