Froude’s Terrible Reputation and Unexpected Obituaries

Good Essays
James Anthony Froude was the biographer of Thomas Carlyle and published his life story in the Reminiscences in 1882. The Reminiscences created a huge scandal since it revealed the highly admired man, Carlyle, to be an abusive and ill tempered man with faults. The Reminiscences sparked public outrage and Froude’s reputation plunged into disgrace as he was discredited and attacked (James Anthony Froude). However it is important to not Froude had always been a controversial figure since he was young starting with his book Nemesis of Faith (James Anthony Froude Dead 17). From a personal letter Froude sent to Ruskin, Froude expresses his sufferings from his reputation (Froude 62-63). With such a disgraced reputation during his life it can be expected that his obituaries published a day or two after his death on October 20, 1894, would also be negative, especially since he continued to be discredited ten years after his death in works such as the Nemesis of Froude by Crichton-Browne. However the three obituaries I will be analyzing are surprisingly mild, some even offer praise. The obituaries do not reflect that there was a change in Froude’s reputation for the better but a bias in their purpose to celebrate the life of the recently deceased despite their reputation.

Froude’s reputation was a disgrace after the Reminiscences were published because of the alleged secrets he revealed of the highly respected and admired man, Thomas Carlyle. The allegations were Carlyle’s marriage “was not a real marriage, and was only a companionship,” Carlyle was abusive and what possibly caused the greatest public outcry was the Froude implied Carlyle was impotent which was, as discussed in class, completely unthinkable to mention at the time in much...

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...y have looked past his disgrace to acknowledge his contributions to literature. More surprisingly the obituaries did have a commonality of critiquing Froude and mentioning he was one to cause controversies.


Froude, James Anthony. “Letter to Ruskin”. November 24, 1886. The Froude-Ruskin Friendship. Ed. Helen Gill Viljoen. NY: Pageant, 1996. p. 61-63.

Froude, James Anthony. My Relations with Carlyle: together with a letter from the late Sir James Stephem, Bart., K.C.S.I. Dated December 9, 1886. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1903. Print. 2-36.

James Anthony Froude. Editorial. New York Times, 21 October 1894.

James Anthony Froude Dead. New York Times. 21 October 1894. ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851-2007) p. 17

The death of James Anthony Froude. Editorial. The London Times. 22 October 1894, pg 9, issues 34401, col C.