Tuesday, May 06, 2008

J. Redding Ware

J. Redding Ware is something of a frustration to me. Back in 1868, in an article entitled 'Mischievous Literature' in The Bookseller, he was named along with a number of other authors as one of the contributors to Edwin Brett's Boys Of England - or perhaps the Newsagents' Publishing Company which Brett was also involved in. The frustration comes from the fact that, whilst all the other authors listed alongside Ware (Bracebridge Hemyng, Vane St. John, Charles Stevens, W. Thompson Townsend and John Cecil Stagg) are all confirmed Brett authors, not one story has been positively identified in one of Brett's publications as being by Ware.

The only positive i.d. of a Ware contribution to a boy's paper is a short poem, signed J.R.W., that appeared in the first issue of Boy's Herald, published by John Dicks on 6 January 1877, a decade later.

Still, the reference intrigued me and I thought I'd dig around and see what I could find out about the elusive J. Redding Ware.

James Redding Ware was born in Southwark, Surrey, on 17 October 1832, the eldest son of James Ware (1802-1849?) and his wife Elizabeth (née Redding), who had married in 1828. He grew up in St. Saviour, Southwark, where his father was a grocer, and was Christenened at St. Saviour on 14 November 1832.

Ware's first novel, The Fortunes of the House of Pennyl appeared in 1860, reviewed favourably by The Ladies' Companion, which noted, "We repeat that, with time, Mr. Ware will do much better work than the Fortunes of the House of Pennyl, which, in spite of its dreamy wildness and high-blown romance, has a certain interest in it which enchains the reader's attention."

Although his earliest known play appeared in 1863, he was in correspondence with Charles Dickens about the possibility of staging a version of The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, in January 1861. (Dickens, then editor of All the Year Round, passed on Ware's letter and enclosures to Collins, but seemingly without a result.)

As Andrew Forrester Jr, Ware penned a number of early police casebook titles, including The Female Detective, reprinting some material that had earlier appeared in the magazine Grave and Gay in 1862 which some have argued means that his detective Miss Gladden predates The Revelations of a Lady Detective by W. Stephen Hayward, whose Mrs. Paschel has also been said to be the first lady detective. One of Forrester's stories was reprinted as a pamphlet under the title The Road Murder, credited to Ware.

A review of Ware's play The Death Trap in The Era (12 June 1870) reveals that: "The "death-trap" we may as well at once explain, is a staircase (in "the Black Mill on the Rhine," contrived by the villain of the piece, the Baron de Schraker (Mr. W. James), as a convenient mode of getting rid of troublesome enemies. By this contrivance, worked upon the see-saw principal, by the movement of a bolt, the top becomes the bottom, and vice-versa; and the victim ascending is precipitated into the Rhine. Poetical justice meets "the villain," however, at the hands of the Chevalier de Placken (Mr. G. Conquest), who throughout appears as "the catspaw," but at the last catches the Baron in his own trap. We have not space to give a detailed account of the plot, but may say that the piece abounds with stirring incidents, which keep the audience thoroughly interested during the four acts which occupy the development of the story. A better mounted piece, we venture to say, has never been placed upon the stage of this Theatre, and the dresses are rich and elegant. The gorgeousness of the first scene, the Reception Saloon in the Palace of Philip Bramlaw, called forth loud expressions of approval. Mr. G. Conquest plays with that dry, quiet humour characteristic of him in most of the parts he undertakes; and the acting of Messrs. James and Macdermott is full of vigour. Miss Madlebert, as Amelie, the wife of the Baron, gave a strikingly forcible rendering of the character; and Mr Manning was rewarded with a good deal of laughter in the part of a comical servant."

Ware was a Freemason (J.W. [Junior Warden], W.M. [Worshipful Master] by 1872), a member of the Urban Lodge (No. 1196), established around 1855. (The Chapter still exists and even has a website.)

From census records it is clear that he worked as an author and journalist most of his life in chambers at 50a Lincolns Inn Fields in London (at least 1873-1901). In January 1877 it was noted in The Graphic (20 Jan 1877) that he had applied for an injunction against the occupant of the rooms below his to stop them playing on a "chamber organ"; the judge, although agreeing that it was a nuisance, decided that it was not actionable. At the time of the case, Ware was sharing his chambers with John F. Fullilove, an artist (not present at the time of the 1881 census when Ware was being visited by George Amos Partridge, a 26-year-old tailor from Exeter). It's also worth noting that John Thomas Dicks, a journalist and the son of John Thomas Dicks (publisher of, amongst others, Bow Bells, which Ware contributed to) lived next door at that time.

In 1880 he was editor of Dupuy's Christmas Annual for T. Harrison Roberts.

Ware died on 23 March 1909; probate records give his address as 37 Hanover Street, Peckham, Surrey, but Electoral Roll records give his home address as 4 Portsmouth Place, Strand [fl.1902-04] and 13 Ann Street, Woolwich [fl.1906-09]. His final work, a dictionary of slang, was published that same year and it seems that Ware is likely to be remembered now as a lexicographer as a Google search for him turns up almost nothing except reference to his Passing English of the Victorian Era.

Or as an anonymous writer of 'Mischievous Literature'... although Ware himself denied any connection. Writing in The Bookseller (1 August 1868), the editor noted: "Mr J. R. Ware writes complaining of the introduction of his name in our article on this subject in the last Bookseller. He has, he says, been long connected with cheap and popular literature, and he furnishes the names of several magazines and papers which he has wither edited or to which he has contributed. All these are of a reputable character, and it is therefore clear that we were under a misunderstanding as to the real nature of his writings, and have to express our regret at any annoyance we may have caused."

Since Brett's Boy's Of England magazine was not considered reputable, we have to conclude that Ware was not a contributor. Which is not to say that he isn't a writer of interest...

The Fortunes of the House of Pennyl. A romance of England in the last century, illus. Phiz. London, Blackwood’s London Library, 1860.

Collections as Andrew Forrester Jr. 
The Revelations of a Private Detective. London, Ward & Lock, Jun 1863; reissued as The Private Detective. A series of revelations of police experience, London, Ward, Lock & Tyler, 1868.
Secret Service; or, Recollections of a City Detective. London, Ward & Lock, 1864.
The Female Detective. London, Ward & Lock, Jun 1864; reissued as Tales by a Female Detective, London, Ward, Lock & Tyler, 1868. 

The Road Murder. Analysis of this persistent mystery, published in 1862, now reprinted, with further remarks. London, W. Oliver, 1865. 
The Isle of Wight, photos. R. Sedgfield & F. M. Good. London, Provost & Co., 1869.
The Modern Hoyle; or, How to play whist – chess – cribbage – dominoes – draughts backgammon, and bezique, with F. Hardy. London, Frederick Warne & Co., c.1870; New York, Scribner, Welford & Armstrong, 1870?
Before the Bench. Sketches of police court life. London, Diprose & Bateman, c.1880.
Wonderful Dreams of Remarkable Men and Women. London, Diprose & Bateman, 1883.
Life and Speeches of his Royal Highness Prince Leopold. London, Diprose & Bateman, 1884.
Famous Centenarians. Upwards of two hundred instances of persons who have lived to be 100 years old. London, Diprose & Bateman, 1885.
The Life and Times of Colonel Fred Burnaby, with R. K. Mann. London, Field and Tuer, 1885.
Mistaken Identities. Celebrated cases of undeserved suffering, self-deception, and wilful imposture. London, Diprose & Bateman, 1886.
Passing English of the Victorian Era. A dictionary of heterodox English slang and phrase. London, Routledge, 1909.

A Nice Quiet Cottage. A one-act farce. London, J. Moore, 1863.
The Death Trap; or, A Cat’s-Paw. A drama in four acts (Grecian Theatre, 6 Jun 1870). London, J. Davis, 1870.
Bothwell. A drama in four acts. London, Dicks, 1871.
In Quarantine. A comedy, in one act. 1871.
The Polish Jew; or, The Sledge Bells (Grecian Theatre, 4 Mar 1872; also performed a The Sleigh Bells; or, The Murder of the Polish Jew).
The Juggler, in British Drama 118, Apr 1872.
Alpine Betrothals. A Swiss eclogue, for music. London, 1880?
Some Social Science. A satirical comedy, in three acts. London, Clayton & Co., 1880.
Constant Drama. A drawing-room drama for two, in Dupuy's Christmas Annual, 1880.
Constant Woman. A drawing-room drama for two and a parlour maid. London, 1881.
Twenty and Four. An original comedy. London, John Dicks, 1883?
The Snow Helped. An original comedy, written expressly for drawing-room acting. London, John Dicks, 1883?
All’s Fair in Love. An original charade written expressly for drawing-room acting, with Henry Herse. London, John Dicks, 1883?
A Woman will be a Woman. An original duologue. London, John Dicks, 1883?

One Snowy Night. A comedy, in one act (Un soir qu’il neigeiat), trans. J. R. Ware. 1871.
Piperman’s Predicaments. A farce, in one act (Les forfeits de Pipermans), trans. J. R. Ware. 1871.
The Meadows of St. Gervis. A farce-comedy, in two acts (Les Pres Saint Gervais), by V. Sardou, trans. J. R. Ware. 1871?
The Juggler; or, Father and Daughter. A drama in a prologue and three acts and The Polish Jew. A drama in three acts, by E. Erckmann and A. Chatrian, trans. from the French. London, Dicks, 1872.
The Barber of Seville (Il barbiere di Siviglia) by Rossini, trans. J. Redding Ware, edited and corrected, according to the original edition, by W. Boulvin. London, Dicks & Co., c.1880.

My Little Lady (music by Maria Louisa Dicks) (Bow Bells Christmas Annual, Dec 1871)
My Love Ne'er Will Give Me Rest (music by H. Potier) (Bow Bells, Dec 1871)

Short Stories
Man With the Hamper (Bow Bells Christmas Annual, Dec 1869)
Margotte (A. Lynes & Son's Illustrated Magazine, Sum 1871)
Twenty and Forty. A Practical Comedy for the Drawing Room (Bow Bells Christmas Annual, Dec 1871)
The Grey Lady (serial; The Sheffield & Rotherham Independent, (2 Mar?) 1872-(Aug?) 1872)
A Thundering Christmas Box (A. Lynes & Son's Illustrated Magazine, Christmas 1873)
Unto This (A. Lynes & Son's Illustrated Magazine, Win 1874)
Begum and Nabob (Bow Bells Annual, Nov 1874)
Angelica--A Serf (A. Lynes & Son's Illustrated Magazine, Sum 1875)
"Agnus Dei" (A. Lynes & Son's Illustrated Magazine 12, 1875)
Echoes from Fairy Land (Bow Bells, Apr 1876)
The Snow Helped. A Little Comedy for the Drawing-room (Bow Bells Annual: Mirth and Worth, Oct 1877)
Cinerariea (A. Lynes & Son's Illustrated Magazine, Win 1877)
(title unknown) (Diprose's Annual, 1882)
(title unknown) (Diprose's Annual, Dec 1888)
King Roan (Diprose's Annual, Nov 1889)
(title unknown) (Diprose's Annual, Dec 1895)

Who Is M. Rochefort? (Belgravia, Feb 1870)

The Pixie's New Year's Gift (Bow Bells Annual, Nov 1874)


  1. gerredThank you so much for this interesting biography of my great-great uncle James Redding Ware. A most fascinating man, whom I knew nothing about, apart from his having written"Passing English" of which we have a copy in the family. My father, Gilbert Ware, never really mentioned him except for this one work,and I had all but forgotten about him, but I was contacted last week by an editor from Cambridge, wanting to find out more about the man. Unfortunately I could tell him very little, though my father had researched our family tree, so the details of birth, christening and death do match. Quite a private individual, evidently, who maybe did not have too much to do with the rest of the Wares. However, I have learnt that my great aunt Emmy (Emily) did tend to him in his dying days when he was suffering from cancer.

    But what a lot he wrote! I shall certainly take a much closer look at "Passing English" at least, which is, I am told, an absolute authority on Victorian slang and colloquial English and very amusing at times.

    I have no idea why he was not spoken of more in the family. A bit of a mystery, as Dad was very family conscious and traced his ancestors back to 1609 (before the era of Ancestry.com!)

    From Marion Slade (nee Ware)

  2. Sorry this is so late!

    Is this the same J.R.Ware that in 1887 produced a "translation and adaptation" of Alexandre Dumas' "Count of Monte Cristo"? It was published by Dicks, so it seems likely.

  3. Ian,,

    I can only echo what you say: it seems likely.



Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books