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James Thomas Fields, the son of a sea captain, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on 31st December, 1817. His father died in 1819 and was brought up by his mother and aunt. After a brief schooling he found work at the Old Corner Bookstore in Boston. He was later apprenticed to publishers Carter and Hendee.
Fields had his first poetry published in 1837. Two years later he joined with William Ticknor to establish the publishing and bookselling firm known as Ticknor and Fields. According to Philip McFarland: "He (Fields) became known for being likable, for his ability to find creative talent, and for his ability to promote authors and win their loyalty."
James Fields met Charles Dickens in Boston in 1842. In his autobiography, Yesterdays with Authors (1871) he wrote: "How well I recall the bleak winter evening in 1842 when I first saw the handsome, glowing face of the young man who was even then famous over half the globe! He came bounding into the Tremont House, fresh from the steamer that had brought him to our shores, and his cheery voice rang through the hall, as he gave a quick glance at the new scenes opening upon him in a strange land... Young, handsome, almost worshipped for his genius, belted round by such troops of friends as rarely ever man had, coming to a new country to make new conquests of fame and honor, surely it was a sight long to be remembered and never wholly to be forgotten. The splendor of his endowments and the personal interest he had won to himself called forth all the enthusiasm of old and young America, and I am glad to have been among the first to witness his arrival. You ask me what was his appearance as he ran, or rather flew, up the steps of the hotel, and sprang into the hall. He seemed all on fire with curiosity, and alive as I never saw mortal before. From top to toe every fibre of his body was unrestrained and alert."
In 1842 Ticknor and Fields became the first American publisher to pay foreign writers for their works. The first author to receive royalty payments from the company was Alfred Tennyson. This was followed by Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. Other writers published by the company included Lydia Maria Child, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sarah Orne Jewett, Mary Freeman, Emma Lazarus, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, John Greenleaf Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and James Russell Lowell.
Fields was engaged to marry Mary Willard. However, she died of tuberculosis on 17th April 1845. He then transferred his attentions to her younger sister. He married the 18-year old sister Eliza Willard on 13th March, 1850. She was also suffering from tuberculosis and died four months later. Fields, distraught by the death of his wife, he travelled to around Europe. This included making contact with Thomas de Quincey and in 1851 he published the first of the twenty-two volumes of De Quincey's collected essays and magazine articles.
In 1854, Fields married the Annie Adams. She played an important role in her husband's company, Ticknor and Fields and helped establish a literary salon at their home at 37 Charles Street. Over the next few years they entertained many well-known writers including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, John Greenleaf Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Ticknor and Fields purchased The Atlantic Monthly for $10,000 in 1859. Two years later he took over the editorship from James Russell Lowell. He later employed William Dean Howells as assistant editor of the magazine.
In July, 1859, Fields visited Charles Dickens at Gad's Hill Place and met the famous novelist, Wilkie Collins: "Early in the month of July, 1859, I spent a day with him in his beautiful country retreat in Kent. He drove me about the leafy lanes in his basket wagon, pointing out the lovely spots belonging to his friends, and ending with a visit to the ruins of Rochester Castle. We climbed up the time-worn walls and leaned out of the ivied windows, looking into the various apartments below. I remember how vividly he reproduced a probable scene in the great old banqueting-room, and how graphically he imagined the life of ennui and everyday tediousness that went on in those lazy old times. I recall his fancy picture of the dogs stretched out before the fire, sleeping and snoring with their masters. That day he seemed to revel in the past, and I stood by, listening almost with awe to his impressive voice, as he spoke out whole chapters of a romance destined never to be written. On our way back to Gad's Hill Place, he stopped in the road, I remember, to have a crack with a gentleman who he told me was a son of Sydney Smith. The only other guest at his table that day was Wilkie Collins; and after dinner we three went out and lay down on the grass, while Dickens showed off a raven that was hopping about, and told anecdotes of the bird and of his many predecessors."
William Ticknor died on 10th April, 1864. Howard M. Ticknor, took over from his father but Fields now became the major figure in the company. On 12th November, 1864, Fields sold the Old Corner Bookstore and moved the publishing house to 124 Tremont Street. Ticknor eventually sold his share of the business to James R. Osgood.
In March 1867, Fields agreed a deal with Charles Dickens to publish a fourteen volume edition of his works. Michael Slater, the author of Charles Dickens (2009) has commented: "On 16th April he (Dickens) wrote to Ticknor & Fields authorising them to state publicly that he had never profited from the reprinting of his works in America by any other publishers than themselves, except for Harper's payments to him for advance proof-sheets of the serial parts of his last three novels."
Dickens letter also included the passage: "In America the occupation of my life for thirty years is, unless it bears your imprint, utterly worthless and profitless to me." As Slater has pointed out: "The publicising of this letter by Ticknor & Fields caused angry protests from other American publishers from whom Dickens had certainly received various payments. Ticknor and Fields defended themselves and Dickens as best they could and proceeded with their Diamond Edition in the anticipation that Dickens would soon commit himself to the readings tour in America that James Fields was eagerly trying to persuade him to undertake."
Fields tried to encourage Dickens to carry out a reading tour of the United States. On 22nd May, 1866, he wrote to reject the suggestion: "Your letter is an excessively difficult one to answer, because I really do not know that any sum of money that could be laid down would induce me to cross the Atlantic to read. Nor do I think it likely that any one on your side of the great water can be prepared to understand the state of the case. For example, I am now just finishing a series of thirty readings. The crowds attending them have been so astounding, and the relish for them has so far outgone all previous experience, that if I were to set myself the task, 'I will make such or such a sum of money by devoting myself to readings for a certain time,' I should have to go no further than Bond Street or Regent Street, to have it secured to me in a day. Therefore, if a specific offer, and a very large one indeed, were made to me from America, I should naturally ask myself, 'Why go through this wear and tear, merely to pluck fruit that grows on every bough at home?' It is a delightful sensation to move a new people; but I have but to go to Paris, and I find the brightest people in the world quite ready for me. I say thus much in a sort of desperate endeavor to explain myself to you. I can put no price upon fifty readings in America, because I do not know that any possible price could pay me for them. And I really cannot say to any one disposed towards the enterprise, 'Tempt me,' because I have too strong a misgiving that he cannot in the nature of things do it."
Dickens eventually changed his mind and on 9th November, 1867, he left Liverpool on board the Cuba and following a rough passage, arrived in Boston ten days later. Fields later recalled: "A few of his friends, under the guidance of the Collector of the port, steamed down in the custom-house boat to welcome him. It was pitch dark before we sighted the Cuba and ran alongside. The great steamer stopped for a few minutes to take us on board, and Dickens's cheery voice greeted me before I had time to distinguish him on the deck of the vessel. The news of the excitement the sale of the tickets to his readings had occasioned had been earned to him by the pilot, twenty miles out. He was in capital spirits over the cheerful account that all was going on so well, and I thought he never looked in better health. The voyage had been a good one, and the ten days' rest on shipboard had strengthened him amazingly he said. As we were told that a crowd had assembled in East Boston, we took him in our little tug and landed him safely at Long Wharf in Boston, where carriages were in waiting. Rooms had been taken for him at the Parker House, and in half an hour after he had reached the hotel he was sitting down to dinner with half a dozen friends, quite prepared, he said, to give the first reading in America that very night, if desirable. Assurances that the kindest feelings towards him existed everywhere put him in great spirits, and he seemed happy to be among us."
According to Fields Charles Dickens insisted on going on a daily walk while in America. In an article published in The Atlantic Monthly he explained how important this daily exercise was to Dickens. "His favorite mode of exercise was walking; and... scarcely a day passed, no matter what the weather, that he did not accomplish his eight or ten miles. It was on these expeditions that he liked to recount to the companion of his rambles stories and incidents of his early life; and when he was in the mood, his fun and humor knew no bounds. He would then frequently discuss the numerous characters in his delightful books, and would act out, on the road, dramatic situations, where Nickleby or Copperfield or Swivelier would play distinguished parts. It is remembered that he said, on one of these occasions, that during the composition of his first stories he could never entirely dismiss the characters about whom he happened to be writing; that while the Old Curiosity Shop was in process of composition Little Nell followed him about everywhere; that while he was writing Oliver Twist Fagin the Jew would never let him rest, even in his most retired moments; that at midnight and in the morning, on the sea and on the land, Tiny Tim and Little Bob Cratchit were ever tugging at his coat-sleeve, as if impatient for him to get back to his desk and continue the story of their lives. But he said after he had published several books, and saw what serious demands his characters were accustomed to make for the constant attention of his already overtasked brain, he resolved that the phantom individuals should no longer intrude on his hours of recreation and rest, but that when he closed the door of his study he would shut them all in, and only meet them again when he came back to resume his task. That force of will with which he was so pre-eminently endowed enabled him to ignore these manifold existences till he chose to renew their acquaintance. He said, also, that when the children of his brain had once been launched, free and clear of him, into the world, they would sometimes turn up in the most unexpected manner to look their father in the face."
On 21st November, 1867, James and Annie Fields gave Dickens a dinner at their home, 37 Charles Street. Dickens described Annie to Mamie Dickens as "a very nice woman, with a rare relish for humour and a most contagious laugh". Annie wrote in her diary that Dickens "bubbled over with fun" at the dinner and that he often "convulsed the company with laughter with... his queer turns of expression". She added that she was very lucky "to have known this great man so well." Dickens told Mamie that: "They are the most devoted friends, and never in the way, and never out of it." Michael Slater has argued: "Not only did the Fieldes provide him with a congenial domestic base (he actually stayed a few days in their house in early January, breaking his otherwise cast-iron rule about never accepting private hospitality during his reading tours), they also offered him an intimate and admiring friendship, firmly based upon their love for him as a great and good man and upon their unbounded admiration for his artistic genius."
Dickens was very open about his problems as a father and mother. Annie recorded, that he was "often troubled by the lack of energy his children show and has even allowed James to see how deep his unhappiness is in having so many children by a wife who is totally uncongenial." Although they did not meet Ellen Ternan he did tell James about her existence. This information was passed on to Annie. She wrote in her diary: "I feel the bond there is between us. She must feel it too. I wonder if we shall ever meet."
Dickens spent the first six weeks of the tour reading in Boston and New York City. His manager, George Dolby, argues that Dickens "always regarded Boston as his American home, inasmuch as all his literary friends lived there". Weeks seven to eight was devoted to Philadelphia and Brooklyn. During weeks nine and eleven Dickens read in Baltimore and Washington. While in the city he met President Andrew Johnson, who at the time was under threat of impeachment. He wrote to John Forster that Johnson had "a remarkable face, indicating courage, watchfulness, and certainly strength of purpose."
By this time Dickens was in poor health and his intended visits to Chicago and St Louis were cancelled. The reading tour was proving to be lucrative and on 15th January, 1868, Dolby paid in £10,000 to Dickens's bank. Dickens took a brief rest before resuming his tour and in March visited Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Albany, Portland and Maine. By this time he was suffering from the old problem of a swollen left foot. He told Mamie Dickens that he was mainly on a liquid diet. He listed his daily intake as being a tablespoonful of rum in a tumbler of fresh cream, a pint of champagne, an egg beaten up in sherry (twice) and soup, last thing at night. He added: "I don't eat more than half a pound of solid food in the whole four-and-twenty hours." On 22nd April, Dickens left for Liverpool on board the Russia . His accounts show that he made a profit of £38,000 as a result of the American tour.
James and Annie Fields visited England in May, 1868. Charles Dickens took a suite for himself in the St James's Hotel in Piccadilly in order to show them the sights of London, Windsor and Richmond. Dickens and Fields carried out research for his new novel by visiting an opium den in Shadwell. Fields later recalled what happened: "During my stay in England in that summer of 1869, I made many excursions with Dickens both around the city and into the country.... Two of these expeditions were made on two consecutive nights, under the protection of police detailed for the service. On one of these nights we also visited the lock-up houses, watch-houses, and opium-eating establishments. It was in one of the horrid opium-dens that he gathered the incidents which he has related in the opening pages of Edwin Drood. In a miserable court we found the haggard old woman blowing at a kind of pipe made of an old penny ink-bottle. The identical words which Dickens puts into the mouth of this wretched creature in Edwin Drood we heard her croon as we leaned over the tattered bed on which she was lying."
The couple also visited Gad's Hill Place and met Georgina Hogarth, Kate Dickens and Mamie Dickens. Fields later commented: "There is no prettier place than Gad's Hill in all England for the earliest and latest flowers, and Dickens chose it, when he had arrived at the fulness of his fame and prosperity, as the home in which he most wished to spend the remainder of his days." Annie wrote in her diary: "I never saw anything prettier; Kate with her muslin kerchief... with white hollyhocks in her hair and her quaint graceful little figure and he (Dickens), light and lithe as a boy of 20 - those two take great delight in each other." Although they did not meet Ellen Ternan he did tell James Fields about her existence. I wonder if we shall ever meet."
On New Year's Day, 1871, Fields announced his retirement from Ticknor and Fields to concentrate on his own writing. the remaining partners bought out Fields's share of the company for $120,000 and was renamed James R. Osgood & Company. Later that year Fields published Yesterdays with Authors.
James Thomas Fields died on 24th April, 1881.
How well I recall the bleak winter evening in 1842 when I first saw the handsome, glowing face of the young man (Charles Dickens) who was even then famous over half the globe! He came bounding into the Tremont House, fresh from the steamer that had brought him to our shores, and his cheery voice rang through the hall, as he gave a quick glance at the new scenes opening upon him in a strange land on first arriving at a Transatlantic hotel. "Here we are!" he shouted, as the lights burst upon the merry party just entering the house, and several gentlemen came forward to greet him. Ah, how happy and buoyant he was then! Young, handsome, almost worshipped for his genius, belted round by such troops of friends as rarely ever man had, coming to a new country to make new conquests of fame and honor, surely it was a sight long to be remembered and never wholly to be forgotten. From top to toe every fibre of his body was unrestrained and alert. What vigor, what keenness, what freshness of spirit, possessed him! He laughed all over, and did not care who heard him! He seemed like the Emperor of Cheerfulness on a cruise of pleasure, determined to conquer a realm or two of fun every hour of his overflowing existence. That night impressed itself on my memory for all time, so far as I am concerned with things sublunary. It was Dickens, the true "Boz," in flesh and blood, who stood before us at last, and with my companions, three or four lads of my own age, I determined to sit up late that night. None of us then, of course, had the honor of an acquaintance with the delightful stranger, and I little thought that I should afterwards come to know him in the beaten way of friendship, and live with him day after day in years far distant; that I should ever be so near to him that he would reveal to me his joys and his sorrows, and thus that I should learn the story of his life from his own lips....
This private reading took place in the little room where the great novelist for many years has been accustomed to write, and in the house where on a pleasant evening in June he died. The spot is one of the loveliest in Kent, and must always be remembered as the last residence of Charles Dickens. He used to declare his firm belief that Shakespeare was specially fond of Kent, and that the poet chose Gad's Hill and Rochester for the scenery of his plays from intimate personal knowledge of their localities. He said he had no manner of doubt but that one of Shakespeare's haunts was the old inn at Rochester, and that this conviction came forcibly upon him one night as he was walking that way, and discovered Charles's Wain over the chimney just as Shakespeare has described it, in words put into the mouth of the carrier in King Henry the Fourth. There is no prettier place than Gad's Hill in all England for the earliest and latest flowers, and Dickens chose it, when he had arrived at the fulness of his fame and prosperity, as the home in which he most wished to spend the remainder of his days. When a boy, he would often pass the house with his father, and frequently said to him, "If ever I have a dwelling of my own, Gad's Hill Place is the house I mean to buy." In that beautiful retreat he has for many years been accustomed to welcome his friends, and find relaxation from the crowded life of London...
There he could be most thoroughly enjoyed, for he never seemed so cheerfully at home anywhere else. At his own table, surrounded by his family, and a few guests, old acquaintances from town - among them sometimes Forster, Carlyle, Reade, Collins, Layard, Maclise, Stone, Macready, Talfourd - he was always the choicest and liveliest companion. He was not what is called in society a professed talker, but he was something far better and rarer...
No writer ever lived whose method was more exact, whose industry was more constant, and whose punctuality was more marked, than those of Charles Dickens. He never shirked labor, mental or bodily. He rarely declined, if the object were a good one, taking the chair at a public meeting, or accepting a charitable trust. Many widows and orphans of deceased literary men have for years been benefited by his wise trusteeship or counsel, and he spent a great portion of his time personally looking after the property of the poor whose interests were under his control. He was, as has been intimated, one of the most industrious of men, and marvellous stories are told (not by himself) of what he has accomplished in a given time in literary and social matters. His studies were all from nature and life, and his habits of observation were untiring...
His favorite mode of exercise was walking; and when in America, two years ago, scarcely a day passed, no matter what the weather, that he did not accomplish his eight or ten miles. He said, also, that when the children of his brain had once been launched, free and clear of him, into the world, they would sometimes turn up in the most unexpected manner to look their father in the face...
There were certain books of which Dickens liked to talk during his walks. Among his especial favorites were the writings of Cobbett, DeQuincey, the Lectures on Moral Philosophy by Sydney Smith, and Carlyle's French Revolution. Of this latter Dickens said it was the book of all others which he read perpetually and of which he never tired, the book which always appeared more imaginative in proportion to the fresh imagination he brought to it, a book for inexhaustibleness to be placed before every other book. When writing the Tale of Two Cities he asked Carlyle if he might see one of the books to which he referred in his history; whereupon Carlyle packed up and sent down to Gad's Hill all his reference volumes, and Dickens read them faithfully. But the more he read the more he was astonished to find how the facts had passed through the alembic of Carlyle's brain and had come out and fitted themselves, each as a part of one great whole, making a compact result, indestructible and unrivalled; and he always found himself turning away from the books of reference, and re-reading with increased wonder this marvellous new growth. There were certain books particularly hateful to him, and of which he never spoke except in terms of most ludicrous raillery...
Dickens's habits as a speaker differed from those of most orators. He gave no thought to the composition of the speech he was to make till the day before he was to deliver it. No matter whether the effort was to be a long or a short one, he never wrote down a word of what he was going to say; but when the proper time arrived for him to consider his subject, he took a walk into the country and the thing was done. When he returned he was all ready for his task...
Twenty years ago Daniel Webster said that Dickens had already done more to ameliorate the condition of the English poor than all the statesmen Great Britain had sent into Parliament. During the unceasing demands upon his time and thought, he found opportunities of visiting personally those haunts of suffering in London which needed the keen eye and sympathetic heart to bring them before the public for relief. Whoever has accompanied him on his midnight walks into the cheap lodging-houses provided for London's lowest poor cannot have failed to learn lessons never to be forgotten. Newgate and Smithfield were lifted out of their abominations by his eloquent pen, and many a hospital is to-day all the better charity for having been visited and watched by Charles Dickens. To use his own words, through his whole life he did what he could "to lighten the lot of those rejected ones whom the world has too long forgotten and too often misused."
These inadequate, and, of necessity, hastily written, records must suffice for the present and stand for what they are worth as personal recollections of the great author who has made so many millions happy by his inestimable genius and sympathy. His life will no doubt be written out in full by some competent hand in England; but however numerous the volumes of his biography, the half can hardly be told of the good deeds he has accomplished for his fellow-men.
And who could ever tell, if those volumes were written, of the subtle qualities of insight and sympathy which rendered him capable of friendship above most men, which enabled him to reinstate its ideal, and made his presence a perpetual joy, and separation from him an ineffaceable sorrow?
Early in the month of July, 1859, I spent a day with him in his beautiful country retreat in Kent. I remember how vividly he reproduced a probable scene in the great old banqueting-room, and how graphically he imagined the life of ennui and every-day tediousness that went on in those lazy old times. The only other guest at his table that day was Wilkie Collins; and after dinner we three went out and lay down on the grass, while Dickens showed off a raven that was hopping about, and told anecdotes of the bird and of his many predecessors.
Your letter is an excessively difficult one to answer, because I really do not know that any sum of money that could be laid down would induce me to cross the Atlantic to read. And I really cannot say to any one disposed towards the enterprise, 'Tempt me,' because I have too strong a misgiving that he cannot in the nature of things do it.
On a blustering evening in November, 1867, Dickens arrived in Boston Harbor, on his second visit to America. A few of his friends, under the guidance of the Collector of the port, steamed down in the custom-house boat to welcome him. Assurances that the kindest feelings towards him existed everywhere put him in great spirits, and he seemed happy to be among us. On Sunday he visited the School Ship and said a few words of encouragement and counsel to the boys. He began his long walks at once, and girded himself up for the hard winter's work before him. Steadily refusing all invitations to go out during the weeks he was reading, he only went into one other house besides the Parker, habitually, during his stay in Boston. Every one who was present remembers the delighted crowds that assembled nightly in the Tremont Temple, and no one who heard Dickens, during that eventful month of December, will forget the sensation produced by the great author, actor, and reader.
During my stay in England in that summer of 1869, I made many excursions with Dickens both around the city and into the country. Among the most memorable of these London rambles was a visit to the General Post-Office, by arrangement with the authorities there, a stroll among the cheap theatres and lodging-houses for the poor, a visit to Furnival's Inn and the very room in it where "Pickwick" was written, and a walk through the thieves' quarter. The identical words which Dickens puts into the mouth of this wretched creature in Edwin Drood we heard her croon as we leaned over the tattered bed on which she was lying. There was something hideous in the way this woman kept repeating, "Ye'll pay up according, deary, won't ye?" and the Chinamen and Lascars made never-to-be-forgotten pictures in the scene. I watched Dickens intently as he went among these outcasts of London, and saw with what deep sympathy he encountered the sad and suffering in their horrid abodes. At the door of one of the penny lodging-houses (it was growing toward morning, and the raw air almost cut one to the bone), I saw him snatch a little child out of its poor drunken mother's arms, and bear it in, filthy as it was, that it might be warmed and cared for. I noticed that whenever he entered one of these wretched rooms he had a word of cheer for its inmates, and that when he left the apartment he always had a pleasant "Good night" or "God bless you" to bestow upon them. I do not think his person was ever recognized in any of these haunts, except in one instance. As we entered a low room in the worst alley we had yet visited, in which were huddled together some forty or fifty half-starved-looking wretches, I noticed a man among the crowd whispering to another and pointing out Dickens. Both men regarded him with marked interest all the time he remained in the room, and tried to get as near him, without observation, as possible. As he turned to go out, one of these men pressed forward and said, "Good night, sir," with much feeling, in reply to Dickens's parting word.
Among other places, we went, a little past midnight, into one of the Casual Wards, which were so graphically described, some years ago, in an English magazine, by a gentleman who, as a pretended tramp, went in on a reporting expedition. We walked through an avenue of poor tired sleeping forms, all lying flat on the floor, and not one of them raised a head to look at us as we moved thoughtfully up the aisle of sorrowful humanity. I think we counted sixty or seventy prostrate beings, who had come in for a night's shelter, and had lain down worn out with fatigue and hunger. There was one pale young face to which I whispered Dickens's attention, and he stood over it with a look of sympathizing interest not to be easily forgotten. There was much ghastly comicality mingled with the horror in several of the places we visited on those two nights. We were standing in a room half filled with people of both sexes, whom the police accompanying us knew to be thieves. Many of these abandoned persons had served out their terms in jail or prison, and would probably be again sentenced under the law. They were all silent and sullen as we entered the room, until an old woman spoke up with a strong, beery voice: "Good evening, gentlemen. We are all wery poor, but strictly honest." At which cheerful apocryphal statement, all the inmates of the room burst into boisterous laughter, and began pelting the imaginative female with epithets uncomplimentary and unsavory. Dickens's quick eye never for a moment ceased to study all these scenes of vice and gloom, and he told me afterwards that, bad as the whole thing was, it had improved infinitely since he first began to study character in those regions of crime and woe.
Between eleven and twelve o'clock on one of the evenings I have mentioned we were taken by Dickens's favorite Detective W- into a sort of lock-up house, where persons are brought from the streets who have been engaged in brawls, or detected in the act of thieving, or who have, in short, committed any offence against the laws. Here they are examined for commitment by a sort of presiding officer, who sits all night for that purpose. We looked into some of the cells, and found them nearly filled with wretched-looking objects who had been brought in that night. To this establishment are also brought lost children who are picked up in the streets by the police, children who have wandered away from their homes, and are not old enough to tell the magistrate where they live. It was well on toward morning, and we were sitting in conversation with one of the officers, when the ponderous door opened and one of these small wanderers was brought in. She was the queerest little figure I ever beheld, and she walked in, holding the police officer by the hand as solemnly and as quietly if she were attending her own obsequies. She was between four and five years old, and had on what was evidently her mother's bonnet - an enormous production, resembling a sort of coal-scuttle, manufactured after the fashion of ten or fifteen years ago. The child had, no doubt, caught up this wonderful head-gear in the absence of her parent, and had gone forth in quest of adventure. The officer reported that he had discovered her in the middle of the street, moving ponderingly along, without any regard to the horses and vehicles all about her. When asked where she lived, she mentioned a street which only existed in her own imagination, and she knew only her Christian name. When she was interrogated by the proper authorities, without the slightest apparent discomposure she replied in a steady voice, as she thought proper, to their questions. The magistrate inadvertently repeated a question as to the number of her brothers and sisters, and the child snapped out, "I told ye wunst; can't ye hear?" When asked if she would like anything, she gayly answered, "Candy, cake and candy." A messenger was sent out to procure these commodities, which she instantly seized on their arrival and began to devour. She showed no signs of fear, until one of the officers untied the huge bonnet and took it off, when she tearfully insisted upon being put into it again. I was greatly impressed by the ingenious efforts of the excellent men in the room to learn from the child where she lived, and who her parents were. Dickens sat looking at the little figure with profound interest, and soon came forward and asked permission to speak with the child. Of course his request was granted, and I don't know when I have enjoyed a conversation more. She made some very smart answers, which convulsed us all with laughter as we stood looking on; and the creator of "little Nell" and "Paul Dombey" gave her up in despair. He was so much interested in the little vagrant, that he sent a messenger next morning to learn if the rightful owner of the bonnet had been found. Report came back, on a duly printed form, setting forth that the anxious father and mother had applied for the child at three o'clock in the morning, and had borne her away in triumph to her home.
It was not perhaps in the purest gold of the matter that we pretended to deal in the New York and the Boston to which I have referred; but if I wish to catch again the silver tinkle at least, straining my ear for it through the sounds of to-day, I have but to recall the dawn of those associations that seemed then to promise everything, and the last declining ray of which rests, just long enough to be caught, on the benign figure of Mrs. Fields, of the latter city, recently deceased and leaving behind her much of the material out of which legend obligingly grows. She herself had the good fortune to assist, during all her later years, at an excellent case of such growth, for which nature not less than circumstance had perfectly fitted her -- she was so intrinsically charming a link with the past and abounded so in the pleasure of reference and the grace of fidelity. She helped the present, that of her own actuality, to think well of her producing conditions, to think better of them than of many of those that open for our wonderment to-day: what a note of distinction they were able to contribute, she moved us to remark, what a quality of refinement they appeared to have encouraged, what a minor form of the monstrous modern noise they seemed to have been consistent with!
The truth was of course very decidedly that the seed I speak of, the seed that has flowered into legend, and with the thick growth of which her domestic scene was quite embowered, had been sown in soil peculiarly grateful and favored by pleasing accidents. The personal beauty of her younger years, long retained and not even at the end of such a stretch of life quite lost; the exquisite native tone and mode of appeal, which anciently we perhaps thought a little 'precious,' but from which the distinctive and the preservative were in time to be snatched, a greater extravagance supervening; the signal sweetness of temper and lightness of tact, in fine, were things that prepared together the easy and infallible exercise of what I have called her references. It adds greatly to one's own measure of the accumulated years to have seen her reach the age at which she could appear to the younger world about her to 'go back' wonderfully far, to be almost the only person extant who did, and to owe much of her value to this delicate aroma of antiquity.
My title for thus speaking of her is that of being myself still extant enough to have known by ocular and other observational evidence what it was she went back to and why the connection should consecrate her. Every society that amounts, as we say, to anything has it own annals, and luckless any to which this cultivation of the sense of a golden age that has left a precious deposit happens to be closed. A local present of proper pretensions has in fact to invent a set of antecedents, something in the nature of an epoch either of giants or of fairies, when literal history may in this respect have failed it, in order to look other temporal claims of a like complexion in the face. Boston, all letterless and unashamed as she verily seems to-day, needs luckily, for recovery of self-respect, no resort to such make-believes -- to legend, that is, before the fact; all her legend is well after it, absolutely upon it, the large, firm fact, and to the point of covering, and covering yet again, every discernible inch of it. I felt myself during the half-dozen years of my younger time spent thereabouts just a little late for history perhaps, though well before, or at least well abreast of, poetry; whereas now it all densely foreshortens, it positively all melts beautifully together, and I square myself in the state of mind of an authority not to be questioned. In other words, my impression of the golden age was a first-hand one, not a second or a third; and since those with whom I shared it have dropped off one by one, -- I can think of but two or three of the distinguished, the intelligent and participant, that is, as left, -- I fear there is no arrogance of authority that I am not capable of taking on.
James T. Fields must have had about him when I first knew him much of the freshness of the season, but I remember thinking him invested with a stately past; this as an effect of the spell cast from an early, or at least from my early, time by the 'Ticknor, Reed and Fields' at the bottom of every title-page of the period that conveyed, however shyly, one of the finer presumptions. I look back with wonder to what would seem a precocious interest in title-pages, and above all into the mysterious or behind-the-scenes world suggested by publishers' names – which, in their various collocations, had a color and a character beyond even those of authors, even those of books themselves; an anomaly that I seek not now to fathom, but which the brilliant Mr. Fields, as I aspiringly saw him, had the full benefit of, not less when I first came to know him than before. Mr. Reed, Mr. Ticknor, were never at all to materialize for me; the former was soon to forfeit any pertinence, and the latter, so far as I was concerned, never so much as peeped round the titular screen. Fields, on the other hand, planted himself well before that expanse; not only had he shone betimes with the reflected light of Longfellow and Lowell, of Emerson and Hawthorne and Whittier, but to meet him was, for an ingenuous young mind, to find that he was understood to return with interest any borrowed glory and to keep the social, or I should perhaps rather say the sentimental, account straight with each of his stars. What he truly shed back, of course, was a prompt sympathy and conver- sability; it was in this social and personal color that he emerged from the mere imprint, and was alone, I gather, among the American publishers of the time in emerging. He had a conception of possibilities of relation with his authors and contributors that I judge no other member of his body in all the land to have had; and one easily makes out for that matter that his firm was all but alone in improving, to this effect of amenity, on the crude relation – crude, I mean, on the part of the author. Few were our native authors, and the friendly Boston house had gathered them in almost all: the other, the New York and Philadelphia houses (practically all we had) were friendly, I make out at this distance of time, to the public in particular, whose appetite they met to abundance with cheap reprints of the products of the London press, but were doomed to represent in a lower, sometimes indeed in the very lowest, degree the element of consideration for the British original. The British original had during that age been reduced to the solatium of publicity pure and simple; knowing, or at least presuming, that he was read in America by the fact of his being appropriated, he could himself appropriate but the complacency of this consciousness.
To the Boston constellation then almost exclusively belonged the higher complacency, as one may surely call it, of being able to measure with some closeness the good purpose to which they glittered. The Fieldses could imagine so much happier a scene that the fond fancy they brought to it seems to flush it all, as I look back, with the richest tints. I so describe the sweet influence because by the time I found myself taking more direct notice the singularly graceful young wife had become, so to speak, a highly noticeable feature; her beautiful head and hair and smile and voice (we wonder if a social circle worth naming was ever ruled by a voice without charm of quality) were so many happy items in a general array. Childless, what is vulgarly called unencumbered, addicted to every hospitality and every benevolence, addicted to the cultivation of talk and wit and to the ingenious multiplication of such ties as could link the upper half of the title-page with the lower, their vivacity, their curiosity, their mobility, the felicity of their instinct for any manner of gathered relic, remnant or tribute, conspired to their helping the 'literary world' roundabout to a self-consciousness more fluttered, no doubt, yet also more romantically resolute.
To turn attention from any present hour to a past that has become distant is always to have to look through overgrowths and reckon with perversions; but even so the domestic, the waterside museum of the Fieldses hangs there clear to me; their salon positively, so far as salons were in the old Puritan city dreamed of by -- which I mean allowing for a couple of exceptions not here to be lingered on. We knew in those days little of collectors; the name of the class, however, already much impressed us, and in that long and narrow drawing-room of odd dimensions -- unfortunately somewhat sacrificed, I frankly confess, as American drawing-rooms are apt to be, to its main aperture or command of outward resonance -- one learned for the first time how vivid a collection might be. Nothing would reconcile me at this hour to any attempt to resolve back into its elements the brave effect of the exhibition, in which the inclusive range of 'old' portrait and letter, of old pictorial and literal autograph and other material gage or illustration, of old original edition or still more authentically consecrated current copy, disposed itself over against the cool sea-presence of the innermost great basin of Boston's port. Most does it come to me, I think, that the enviable pair went abroad with freedom and frequency, and that the inscribed and figured walls were a record of delightful adventure, a display as of votive objects attached by restored and grateful mariners to the nearest shrine. To go abroad, to be abroad (for the return thence was to the advantage, after all, only of those who could not so proceed) represented success in life, and our couple were immensely successful.
James T. Fields
James T. Fields (1817-1881), circa 1869. Photo by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
|James T. Fields|
|Born||December 31, 1817 ( 1817-Template:MONTHNUMBER-31 ) |
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
|Died||April 24, 1881 ( 1881-Template:MONTHNUMBER-24 ) (aged㺿)|
|Occupation||editor, publisher, poet|
James Thomas Fields (December 31, 1817 - April 24, 1881) was an American poet publisher, and editor.
James T. Fields
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James T. Fields, in full James Thomas Fields, (born December 31, 1817, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, U.S.—died April 24, 1881, Boston, Massachusetts), American author and leading publisher in the United States.
At 14 Fields went to Boston, working as clerk in a bookseller’s shop. While he was employed there, he began to write for the local newspapers. In 1838 he became junior partner in the bookselling firm of Ticknor, Reed and Fields, which became Ticknor and Fields in 1854 and Fields, Osgood and Co. in 1868. His Old Corner Bookstore, which served as a meeting place of the literary world, was a Boston institution. He was the publisher of the foremost contemporary American writers, with most of whom he was on terms of close personal friendship John Greenleaf Whittier, for instance, depicted him in The Tent on the Beach. He was also the American publisher of some of the best-known British writers of his time. In 1861–70, as the successor of James Russell Lowell, he edited The Atlantic Monthly. Fields’s writings include: Poems (1849), Yesterdays With Authors (1872), and Hawthorne (1876).
This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager.
Fields was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. His father was a sea captain and died before Fields was three. At the age of 14, Fields took a job at the Old Corner Bookstore in Boston. His first published poetry was included in the Portsmouth Journal in 1837 but he drew more attention when, on September 13, 1838, he delivered his "Anniversary Poem" to the Boston Mercantile Library Association.
In 1839, he joined William Ticknor and became junior partner in the publishing and bookselling firm known after 1846 as Ticknor and Fields, and after 1868 as Fields, Osgood & Company. With this company, Fields was the publisher of leading contemporary American writers, with whom he was on terms of close personal friendship. He was also the American publisher of some of the best-known British writers of his time, some of whom he also knew intimately. The first collected edition of Thomas De Quincey's works (20 vols., 1850-1855) was published by his firm. As a publisher, he was characterized by a somewhat rare combination of keen business acumen and sound, discriminating literary taste, and as a man he was known for his geniality and charm of manner. Ticknor and Fields built their company to have a substantial influence in the literary scene which writer and editor Nathaniel Parker Willis acknowledged in a letter to Fields: "Your press is the announcing-room of the country's Court of Poetry."
In 1854, Fields married his second wife, Annie Adams, who was an author herself.
Ticknor and Fields purchased The Atlantic Monthly for $10,000 and, about two years later in May 1861, Fields took over the editorship when James Russell Lowell left. In 1871, he retired from business and from his editorial duties and devoted himself to lecturing and writing. He also edited, with Edwin P. Whipple, A Family Library of British Poetry (1878).
Fields died in Boston on April 24, 1881. He is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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James T. Fields
|Short Name:||James T. Fields|
|Full Name:||Fields, James Thomas, 1816-1881|
Fields, James Thomas, born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Dec. 31, 1816 was for some years a partner in the Boston publishing firm of Ticknor and Fields, and also the editor of the Atlantic Monthly from 1862 to 1870. From the 1854 edition of his Poems, Putnam has given 13 pieces in his Singers and Songs, &c, 1874, p. 437, one of which, "Thou Who hast called our being here "(Child's Hymn), has come into common use. He died April 24, 1881.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)
Born: December 31, 1817, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Died: April 24, 1881, Boston, Massachusetts.
Buried: Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Fields’ father, a sea captain, died before John was three. Fields and his brother were raised by their mother and her siblings, their aunt Mary and uncle George. At age 14, Fields took a job at the Old Corner Bookstore in Boston as an apprentice to publishers Carter and Hendee. His first published poems appeared in the Portsmouth Journal in 1837, but he drew more attention when, on September 13, 1838, he delivered his Anniversary Poem to the Boston Mercantile Library Association.
In 1839, Fields joined William Ticknor and became junior partner in the publishing and bookselling firm known after 1846 as Ticknor and Fields, and after 1868 as Fields, Osgood & Company. Ticknor oversaw the business side of the firm, while Fields was its literary expert. He became known for being likable, for his ability to find creative talent, and for promoting authors and winning their loyalty. With this company, Fields became the publisher of leading contemporary American writers, with whom he was on terms of close personal friendship. He was also the American publisher of some of the best known British writers of his time, some of whom he also knew intimately. The company paid royalties to these British authors, including Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray, at a time when other American publishers pirated the works of those authors. His firm published the first collected edition of Thomas de Quincey’s works (20 volumes, 1850-55) . Ticknor and Fields built their company to have a substantial influence in the literary scene which writer and editor Nathaniel Parker Willis acknowledged in a letter to Fields: "Your press is the announcing-room of the country’s Court of Poetry."
In 1844, Fields was engaged to Mary Willard, a local woman six years younger than him. Before they could be married, she died of tuberculosis on April 17, 1845. He maintained a close friendship with her family and, on March 13, 1850, married her 18-year old sister Eliza Willard at Boston’s Federal Street Church. Also sick with tuberculosis, she died July 13, 1851. Grief stricken, Fields left America for a time and traveled to Europe.
In 1854, Fields married Annie Adams, who was an author herself. She was instrumental in helping her husband establish literary salons at their home at 37 Charles Street in Boston, where they entertained many well known writers, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne. After Hawthorne’s death in 1864, Fields served as a pallbearer for his funeral alongside Bronson Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Edwin Percy Whipple. In 1867, he performed the same role after the death of Nathaniel Parker Willis, along with Holmes, Longfellow, James Russell Lowell, and Samuel Gridley Howe.
Ticknor and Fields purchased The Atlantic Monthly around 1859 for $10,000 and, in May 1861, Fields took over the editorship from Lowell. At a New Year’s Eve party in 1865, he met William Dean Howells, and 10 days later offered him a position as assistant editor of the Atlantic. Howells accepted, but was somewhat dismayed by Fields’ close supervision.
Fields was less concerned with the retail store owned by the company, and wanted to focus on publishing. On November 12, 1864, he sold the Old Corner Bookstore and moved Ticknor and Fields to 124 Tremont Street. On New Year’s Day, 1871, Fields announced his retirement from the business at a small gathering of friends. No longer occupied by editorial duties, he devoted himself to lecturing and writing. He also edited, with Edwin Percy Whipple, A Family Library of British Poetry (1878).
Fields became increasingly popular as a lecturer in the 1870s. In May 1879, he suffered a stroke and collapsed before a scheduled lecture at Wellesley College. By autumn, he seemed to have recovered. In January 1881, he gave what his final public lecture, coincidentally at the Mercantile Library Association, the organization that hosted his first public reading.
In the field of hymnology, 13 pieces from the 1854 of edition of Fields’ Poems appeared in Putnam’s Singers and Songs.
James Thomas Fields - Encyclopedia
JAMES THOMAS FIELDS (1817-1881), American publisher and author, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the 31st of December 1817. At the age of seventeen he went to Boston as clerk in a bookseller's shop. Afterwards he wrote for the newspapers, and in 1835 he read an anniversary poem entitled "Commerce" before the Boston Mercantile Library Association. In 1839 he became junior partner in the publishing and bookselling firm known after 1846 as Ticknor & Fields, and after 1868 as Fields, Osgood & Company. He was the publisher of the foremost contemporary American writers, with whom he was on terms of close personal friendship, and he was the American publisher of some of the best-known British writers of his time, some of whom, also, he knew intimately. The first collected edition of De Quincey's works (20 vols., 1850-1855) was published by his firm. As a publisher he was characterized by a somewhat rare combination of keen business acumen and sound, discriminating literary taste, and as a man he was known for his geniality and charm of manner. In 1862-1870, as the successor of James Russell Lowell, he edited the Atlantic Monthly. In 1871 Fields retired from business and from his editorial duties, and devoted himself to lecturing and to writing. Of his books the chief were the collection of sketches and essays entitled Underbrush (1877) and the chapters of reminiscence composing Yesterdays with Authors (1871), in which he recorded his personal friendship with Wordsworth, Thackeray, Dickens, Hawthorne and others. He died in Boston on the 24th of April 1881.
His second wife, Annie Adams Fields (b. 1834), whom he married in 1854, published Under the Olive (1880), a book of verses James T. Fields: Biographical Notes and Personal Sketches (1882) Authors and Friends (1896) The Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1897) and Orpheus (1900).
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Fields, James Thomas
James Thomas Fields, 1817, American author and publisher, b. Portsmouth, N.H. He was the junior partner of Ticknor and Fields, noted Boston publishing house in the mid-19th cent. He edited (1861) the Atlantic Monthly with notable success. His books, largely reminiscences of literary friendships, include Yesterdays with Authors (1872), Hawthorne (1876), and In and Out of Doors with Charles Dickens (1876). He was aided in his work by his wife, Annie Adams Fields, 1834, a native of Boston, who also became a well-known author. Besides writing volumes of verse and biographies of Whittier (1893) and Harriet Beecher Stowe (1897), she was famous for her literary salon in Boston.
See her journals, Memories of a Hostess (ed. by M. A. De Wolfe Howe, 1922).
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Fields, James Thomas (1817-1881)
Dates / Origin Date Created: 1837 - 1865 Library locations Manuscripts and Archives Division Shelf locator: MssCol 873 Genres Correspondence Notes Biographical/historical: Author, publisher Content: See also: 14506 (Vol. 50), 15458 (Vol. 58) Physical Description Extent: 50 items Type of Resource Text Languages English Identifiers NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12103197 MSS Unit ID: 873 Archives EAD ID: 246532 Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 8e86b210-fca2-0132-8ccc-58d385a7b928 Rights Statement The New York Public Library believes that this item is in the public domain under the laws of the United States, but did not make a determination as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. This item may not be in the public domain under the laws of other countries. Though not required, if you want to credit us as the source, please use the following statement, "From The New York Public Library," and provide a link back to the item on our Digital Collections site. Doing so helps us track how our collection is used and helps justify freely releasing even more content in the future.
There may have been a settlement on the boundary at Cambridge Heath to give its name to Mare Street, the way to Hackney village from Bethnal Green. (fn. 1) Cambridge Heath was common pasture in 1275 and adjoined London Field, which was recorded from 1540, at first in the singular, and was perhaps named from its position at the London end of Hackney's busiest local road. (fn. 2) This section treats the modern Mare Street as far north as Hackney Grove, including the stretch south of the Triangle, which until 1868 was called Cambridge Heath. (fn. 3) It also includes London Fields, both the open space and the built-up land east and south of it.
Mare Street was a distinct settlement in 1593. (fn. 4) By that date it may have included the Flying Horse inn, said to have been a staging post perhaps because of its 18th-century name, the Nag's Head, and the Horse and Groom, since all three were timber built. The first two stood at the corners of Flying Horse Yard and London Lane, both leading from Mare Street to London Fields. (fn. 5) Farther south a way to the fields, the 19th-century Mutton Lane (later West, from 1911 Westgate, Street), was described in the 17th century as Sheep Lane, which name was later applied to a route south from Mutton Lane parallel with Mare Street. (fn. 6)
In 1605 Mare Street had 23 residents who contributed to repair of the church. The highest payers included Mr. Huggins, presumably Edmund Huggins recorded in 1602, William Bird, Thomas Catcher, recorded as a moneyer in 1602, and Mr. De Quester, probably James De Quester, a foreign merchant all were citizens of London. (fn. 7) Another William Bird, a merchant with Spanish connexions, had a house in Mare Street in 1695. (fn. 8) Some property of George Clarke was occupied in 1657 by Robert Neighbours, a blacksmith, who was allowed to build on waste in Mare Street near the sign of the Magpie, adjoining St. Thomas's hospital's land. (fn. 9) Forty-nine houses owed hearth tax in 1664, the largest being those of Clarke and of the City chamberlain Sir Thomas Player at 14 hearths, and 6 stood empty (fn. 10) 78 were assessed in 1672. (fn. 11)
The ownership and occupation of holdings between Mare Street and London Fields had already begun to be reorganized. Dr. William Parker and his wife Elizabeth were licensed to pull down an old building in 1667 and 1675, and occupied a new house in 1685, formed from two out of four tenements on ½ a. in the north angle of Sheep Lane (later Westgate Street). (fn. 12) The site abutted north and west on other land of Parker, who also held two tenements formed out of one in Mare Street, acquired in 1672 from James Debutt, and two houses in Sheep Lane, one of them the Shoulder of Mutton. (fn. 13) All passed to the son of William Parker and his heirs. (fn. 14)
James Debutt, presumably as heir to Giles Debutt who had been made a vestryman in 1627, (fn. 15) occupied part of a neighbouring copyhold of Kingshold in 1666 and settled it on his son-in-law Richard Bristow, grocer of London, in 1672. (fn. 16) Bristow acquired a Lordshold copyhold with 5 a. in London Fields in 1695 and bought the freeholds of five Kingshold houses in Mare Street, with three tenements behind them they included Debutt's house, which had been assessed at 10 hearths, and Lady Player's late residence. (fn. 17) His widow Elizabeth Bristow, with William Parker and Joseph Thompson, was one of the chief landholders in London Fields in 1719. (fn. 18) By will dated 1722 she left her Lordshold copyhold, the former 'Black and White House, now called the madhouse', with land in Mare Street adjoining Sheep Lane, to her son John, of the Grove, in Ellesborough (Bucks.), (fn. 19) whose nephew Richard Bristow in 1769 left them for sale to Richard Heron. (fn. 20)
East of Mare Street building was carried out by Thomas Tryon, a merchant and from 1692 a copyholder, who bought more land in 1696. By will dated 1703 he left several houses to his daughter Elizabeth, wife of Richard Wilkinson, and five to his daughter Rebecca, wife of John Owen. (fn. 21) Thomas Tryon Owen and his brother John Owen in 1728 held ten houses, presumably where Tryon's Place marked the narrow end of a track leading to Shore Place. (fn. 22)
Near Hackney village, south of the modern corner of Darnley Road, stood a three-storeyed gable-ended house reputedly built c. 1590. (fn. 23) It was granted in 1658 with nearly 4 a. of pasture called Barber's Barn to John Jones, who held adjoining premises and presumably leased it to the regicide Col. John Okey (d. 1662). (fn. 24) The house, formerly Barber's Barn, was occupied with 1½ a. by Katharine Clarke, widow, in 1715, when John Bird mortgaged it to his fellow citizen of London, the grocer John Iveson. (fn. 25) It later passed to the nurseryman Conrad Loddiges, who replaced it with his own house and Loddiges Terrace. Residents in the terrace were to include the line engraver George Cooke (d. 1834), who worked for Loddiges, and his son Edward Cooke (d. 1880), the marine painter. (fn. 26)
The south end of Mare Street c. 1830
A Haggerston brickmaker, John Waxham, in 1713 mortgaged land in Tower Street fronting London Fields, where a house had been built and others were planned. (fn. 27) That Tower Street was probably not the later Tower (from 1938 Martello) Street, at the end of London Lane along part of the line of Church Path, but rather the later Lamb Lane, said to commemorate the owner of a large house of c. 1720 at the corner of Mare Street (fn. 28) nearby pasture was bordered on the south-west by Sheep Lane. (fn. 29) Jacob Alvares had moved to the neighbourhood by 1717 and held 7 copyhold houses, some having been divided, by 1730. (fn. 30)
Mare Street was the most populous district of the parish in 1720, with 111 ratepayers, and contained 9 of the 36 select vestrymen in 1729. (fn. 31) More built-up than the high road through Kingsland, it had 19 licensed inns by 1723, including the Shoulder of Mutton where Church Path reached the south end of London Fields and the Red Lion at Cambridge Heath three inns were called the Swan, two the Cock, and two the Ship. (fn. 32) Ratepayers numbered 140 in 1735 and 199 by 1761 but had barely increased by 1779, when Mare Street was overtaken in numbers by Homerton and rivalled by Clapton. (fn. 33) The traveller Celia Fiennes died at a house in Mare Street near Well Street in 1741. (fn. 34)
In 1745 buildings lined both sides of Mare Street between Mutton Lane and London Lane, leading respectively to the south and north ends of London Fields. They were probably densest at the junction with Well Street and did not extend far down that road or any side road except Mutton and London lanes, although at the end of London Lane they lined part of London Fields. Houses were not yet continuous along Mare Street: there were breaks between Bethnal Green and the houses at Cambridge Heath, between those houses and Mutton Lane, where the road widened beside a pond at what was later called the Triangle, and between London Lane and Church Street. (fn. 35)
The most impressive 18th-century development was on the east side of Mare Street. St. Thomas's hospital followed its decision to build on the site of Shore Place (fn. 36) with a lease in 1769 under which Robert Collins laid out St. Thomas's Square in 1771-2. A Congregational chapel was opened on the south side in 1772 and served by distinguished ministers. Richard Price (d. 1791), of the Old Gravel Pit meeting, moved to no. 2 in 1786. (fn. 37)
Farther north the hospital allowed small-scale development east of Mare Street under a lease of 1780 to Joseph Spackman, whose Spackman's Buildings until 1868 marked the beginning of Hackney village. (fn. 38) Building also began to spread along the north side of Well Street as far as Shore Place, with a short terrace of 1785 and a slightly earlier pair. The first terrace in St. Thomas's Place, a narrow way between the square and Well Street, was built by Thomas Pearson between 1805 and 1807. Denmark Place was built on the south side of Well Street in 1810. (fn. 39)
Farther south the village around the Triangle became linked with Cambridge Heath. In 1789 Benjamin Bond Hopkins leased land stretching east for c. 300 yd. to Giles Wells, a market gardener of Bethnal Green, and the Mare Street frontage was subleased to James Benson, who in the 1790s built a terrace called Cambridge Row (later part of the neighbouring Cambridge Terrace and from 1868 nos. 30 to 56 (even) Mare Street). (fn. 40) Close to the parish boundary John (from 1871 Vyner) Street ran eastward by 1811, (fn. 41) before the Regent's canal cut it off from land to the north, where similarly cramped houses were built on former Hopkins land in North (from 1938 Northiam) Street. (fn. 42)
South of London Fields the Cat and Mutton (formerly the Shoulder of Mutton) in 1790 marked the end of a row of building along the south side of Mutton Lane on land of William Parker Hamond, whose Shoulder of Mutton field lay to the west. (fn. 43) Garden ground south of the row, bounded east by Sheep Lane, was sold to Thomas Pearson in 1799, with 1 a. north of Mutton Lane. Neighbouring pieces included 11 houses newly built by George Plumridge, sold in 1798 to Peter Pearse, and adjoining land sold in 1800 to James Potts, a purchaser of Hamond's lands near the Grove, (fn. 44) who was bankrupt by 1817. (fn. 45) Duncan Place on the line of Church Path (from 1881 part of the Broadway, in 1937 renamed Broadway Market), had been named by 1811. So too had London Place (later part of London Fields East Side) leading north from Mutton Lane. (fn. 46) Isaac Alvares built a house for his mistress Mrs. Jenkins in Tower Street (soon renamed Lamb Lane) in 1810 and his own residence had made way for several buildings in Mare Street by 1812. (fn. 47) Flying Horse Yard (in 1821 called Exmouth Place) and Lamb Lane, although not wholly built up, housed tradesmen and workmen in 1821. (fn. 48)
In 1831 buildings formed almost a continuous ribbon from Cambridge Heath to Hackney village. Houses in Mare Street north of St. Thomas's Square were compared favourably with those farther south, many of which presumably were older, and with shops north of the Grove. (fn. 49) Towards Grove Street further growth waited on plans for the Cass and St. Thomas's hospital estates: behind Cambridge Row, Giles Wells's widow Mary held garden ground where Victoria Park Road could not be constructed until the lease expired in 1850. (fn. 50) Towards London Fields there was some cramped building in Sheep Lane and more on Shoulder of Mutton field in George and John streets (later Hamburg and Bremen, from 1918 Croston and Dericote, streets). South-west of the Fields a start made on Lansdowne Place in Lansdowne Road (from 1938 Lansdowne Drive) preceded the exploitation of adjoining land in Dalston. (fn. 51) The eastern edge of London Fields was built up only with London Place, a few houses in Exmouth Place (shown at the end of Flying Horse Yard), and near the ends of Lamb Lane and London Lane. Arnold House faced London Fields opposite the buildings south of London Lane it had been leased in 1825 from William Thompson Corbett (d. 1832) of Elsham (Lines.) and probably in 1802 from Thomas Corbett (d. 1808), whose wife had inherited land of Joseph Thompson. (fn. 52) Between the Fields and Mare Street the land was mainly occupied by outbuildings and gardens they included those of Dr. Warburton's house, once William Parker's, Pembroke House, and the Corbetts' London House in London Lane, all three being asylums. (fn. 53)
The junction at the Triangle was so busy in 1827 that all the verges were to be cut back to widen Mutton Lane and a footpath along Mare Street the central plot was to be fenced as an ornamental space. (fn. 54) Infilling began towards London Fields, where dense building around Helmsley Street, reaching the Fields at Helmsley Terrace, by 1852 represented the development of the Alvares estate for George Jenkins. (fn. 55) Warburton Road, parallel with Flying Horse Yard, replaced Dr. Warburton's asylum and its long garden William Frederick Tuck planned to build at least 20 houses in 1847 and Warburton Place along Mare Street in 1848. (fn. 56) More small houses formed Warburton Square, which was separated from London Fields by Pacifico's almshouses of c. 1851 and a chapel of c. 1863, both built on land sold by the Brandon family to William Bull in 1846. (fn. 57) Thomas George Corbett made a building lease for the west side of Tower (later Martello) Street in 1856. (fn. 58) St. Michael and All Angels' church was built in 1864 at the west end of Lamb Lane, while Pembroke House, with Melbourne House and West Lodge to the north, survived at the east end. (fn. 59)
New houses behind the east frontages of Mare Street were chiefly the work of builders active around Well Street. Marmaduke Matthews, of Cambridge Lodge south of the Triangle, in 1856 built a large pair called Cambridge Lodge Villas farther back, blocking plans by the St. Pancras land society to reach the main road. (fn. 60) Tryon's Place was extended to the east in the 1840s by H. D. Hacon as Tryon's Terrace, the whole length being named Tudor Road by 1865. (fn. 61) Avenues were planned north and east of St. Thomas's Square in 1853, in expectation of the closure of Loddiges's nursery. (fn. 62)
London Fields only narrowly escaped development. Agents of the landholders were denying access to all but Church Path in 1860 (fn. 63) and presumably united to advertise for builders in 1862. The offer did not include a square plot of nearly 4 a. in the north-west, formerly of Mrs. Hamond and later of William Rhodes and still nursery ground in 1862. Covered with the houses south of Wilman Grove by 1870, it was where a west London surveyor called George Clarkson was building quickly c. 1867, when his title was disputed by preservationists. (fn. 64) Supporters of building pointed to the neglected state of London Fields but were frustrated by concern to save a large space so close to the City. (fn. 65) The district's only other public spaces were the garden of St. Thomas's Square and disused graveyards south of the Congregational chapel and along the east side of St. Thomas's Place. (fn. 66)
South-west of the Triangle, towards the Regent's canal, conditions were cramped. A few private grounds survived between the Cambridge Heath houses and Sheep Lane in 1865 but most made way for the G.E.R.'s line opened in 1872. (fn. 67) The raised railway, whose arches were to attract workshops, cut north between Mare Street and London Fields, with a station in Grosvenor (from 1878 Mentmore) Terrace, and added to the industrial character of an area said in 1870 to be very poor. (fn. 68) The G.E.R.'s purchase of Pembroke House (fn. 69) led to infilling south of Lamb Lane, where Sidworth Street was named in 1872 and Bayford Street in 1873. Crowded housing also filled Fortescue Avenue and other roads to the north, where Grosvenor Terrace like Sidworth Street faced the railway and where Ellingfort Road was named in 1878 and Gransden Avenue in 1880. (fn. 70) Small businesses by 1872 were numerous in London Place and by 1888 had spread farther along the frontage to London Fields. (fn. 71)
The main street, with tramways from 1873, (fn. 72) attracted purpose-built institutions, including chapels, Morley hall at the Triangle in 1879, and Lady Holles's sch. midway between Well Street and St. Thomas's Square in 1882. (fn. 73) Other bodies, notably the Elizabeth Fry refuge and later, at Cambridge Lodge Villas, St. Joseph's hospice, took over existing houses. (fn. 74) The sanitary chemist Charles Meymott Tidy (d. 1892), a local doctor's son, lived in 1870 at Cambridge Heath. (fn. 75) Three schools were built around London Fields between 1873 and 1898. (fn. 76)
Well-to-do residents still lived along Mare Street in the 1880s, with some who were 'fairly comfortable' south of Well Street and with a few immediately south of Hackney Grove. Around London Fields the well-to-do along the north side were separated from the fairly comfortable in Lansdowne Road and the Broadway by mixed households along the east side and by the poor along the west side south of Wilman Grove. Many streets near the railway were also mixed including Lamb Lane and Helmsley Street Exmouth Place, Warburton Road and Square, and Helmsley Place were poor. South of London Fields, Ash Grove was mixed but Ada Street and its parallels on the opposite side of Sheep Lane were poor, as were Hamburg and Bremen streets west of Lansdowne Road. Duncan Street, Road, and Square were very poor. (fn. 77)
Widening of Mare street was sought in 1885 but it was not until 1899 that the L.C.C. agreed to improve the whole length from the Triangle to Hackney village. (fn. 78) The forecourts of several large houses on both sides south of Hackney Grove, including Spackman's Buildings, were compulsorily purchased in 1902 for work that was finished by 1906. (fn. 79) Building was planned in the gardens of nos. 263-9 (odd), at the corner of Richmond Road, in 1903. (fn. 80) Many factories were built behind, on the east side notably off Tudor Road and Well Street, including a bus garage of 1911, and near the end of Darnley Road. On the west side they faced the street, displacing old houses over shops south of London Lane. Near the railway they included Silesia Buildings, named in 1906, off Gransden Avenue. Demolition had taken place south of Lady Holles's school by 1905 and more was awaited south of the Triangle c. 1912. (fn. 81) The L.C.C. in 1904 opened Darcy Buildings (later House), 40 dwellings and one of the first of its blocks in Hackney, on the site of Pacifico's almshouses. (fn. 82)
After the First World War the area grew more industrial. Conversions of houses into workshops were reported in 1928, notably in Tudor Road and Mentmore Terrace, as were new factories in Mare Street and around Tower Street and Ash Grove. (fn. 83) Large houses also made way for flats over shops, as at nos. 206 and 208 Mare Street, on the corner of Devonshire Road, in 1925 and at Richmond Court (no. 257) by 1937. (fn. 84) The timber-framed no. 149 Mare Street, once the Flying Horse, and two houses north of Tudor Road, probably the last remnants of Tryon's Place, were in poor condition by 1930. (fn. 85) The closure of Cambridge Heath Congregational church in 1936 later provided more space for St. Joseph's hospice. (fn. 86)
Slum clearance was chiefly around London Fields. In 1935 more than half of the inhabitants of 75 houses around Duncan Square had been rehoused by the L.C.C., presumably in part of its massive Duncan (from 1974 Alden) House. (fn. 87) Warburton Square had been newly cleared of 156 houses in 1935 and most of its inhabitants resettled, presumably in Warburton House next to Darcy House, by 1938. (fn. 88) Hackney M.B. planned to clear most of Essex Street, south of the Triangle, in 1936. (fn. 89)
Victims of bomb damage included churches, the north-west corner of St. Thomas's Square, Georgian houses (nos. 107-9) at the Triangle, and Mentmore Terrace. (fn. 90) The entire northern and eastern sides of St. Thomas's Square were compulsorily purchased in 1952 and later demolished, (fn. 91) the northern making way for Pitcairn House of 1961-3, designed by Eric Lyons as part of the L.C.C.'s Frampton Park estate. (fn. 92) The garden on the east side of St. Thomas's Place was incorporated into the estate, whereas the older houses on the west side were bought in 1963 by Hackney M.B. (fn. 93) In Mare Street piecemeal rebuilding was most obvious towards the south end, with extensions for the Cordwainers' college at the former Lady Holles's school and for St. Joseph's hospice. (fn. 94) The site around the bombed nos. 107-9 was taken for Netil House, partly occupied by Hackney technical college. (fn. 95)
South of London Fields large new buildings included flats at Broadway House from 1951 in Jackman (formerly Goring) Street and the 17storeyed Welshpool House from 1965 in Welshpool Street. (fn. 96) In 1975 Hackney L.B. approved the G.L.C.'s proposals to rehabilitate Broadway Market and the streets to the west London Transport's depot in Ash Grove had been planned and smaller industries were to be regrouped. (fn. 97) In Ada Street a long eight-storeyed block in 1992 was being prepared for use as workshops.
In 1993 Mare Street was a nondescript mixture of low-rise factories, shops, and institutional buildings, the tallest being Pitcairn House. At the south end new factories around Ash Grove faced the junction of Northiam Street and Victoria Park road, whence new houses stretched eastward, with an empty site to the north. The last reminder of early 19th-century Cambridge Heath, a row listed in 1975 as nos. 12-20 (even) Mare Street, (fn. 98) had been acquired by the Spital fields trust from the Crown Estate and awaited restoration. (fn. 99) Nos. 24-28, dated 1811 and similarly listed as a terrace of three storeys over a basement, had already gone. So too had James Benson's nos. 30-56 and, at St. Thomas's Square, a pedimented archway which had probably been its carriage entrance. (fn. 100) At the south-east corner of London Fields, the Ann Tayler centre had been built on the site of London Place.
Shops in Mare Street were mainly around the Triangle, which was adorned by a single tree, and the junction with Well Street. Broadway Market, much of it still awaiting refurbishment, retained most of the 60-odd shops noted in 1975. (fn. 101) Near the railway the new Bayford industrial centre had replaced terraces east of Sidworth Street. London Fields industrial area around London Lane appeared run down: nearly all the railway arches had been blocked up, many Victorian houses stood derelict or had made way for yards, and much factory space was unused. Victorian terraces were mixed with more prosperous industry in Ellingfort and Richmond roads.
The sole representative of Mare Street's early 18th-century gentlemen's residences is no. 195 (the New Lansdowne club). (fn. 102) It has five bays, of three storeys over a basement, with steps to a Doric doorcase brown and red brickwork has been renewed, in the original style, on the upper storeys at the front. (fn. 103) Of the 18th century with alterations, and of three storeys over a basement, are nos. 224-32 (even) the first, at the corner of Darnley Road, has a bow front and was no. 1 Spackman's Buildings, the residence from 1850 to 1863 of the local historian Benjamin Clarke. (fn. 104) The early 19th-century houses of Loddiges Terrace can be seen to the south, behind the projecting shop fronts of nos. 210-218. Immediately south of the Cordwainers' college, seven early 19th-century cottages survive unexpectedly in the cul-de-sac Pemberton Place. A three-storeyed terrace, mostly over basements, forms nos. 1-24 St. Thomas's Place, where the southernmost eight houses were built by Thomas Pearson in 1807. (fn. 105)
London Fields is a flat utilitarian open space, with some mature plane trees. The former Helmsley Terrace, two- and three-storeyed over basements, survives from the early 19th century as part of London Fields East Side. Broadway Market has two-storeyed early 19th-century houses, of which nos. 75-81 (odd) are at the north-west end the group is in poor condition and no. 77, a 'perfectly preserved contemporary small shop' in 1975, stands empty. To the west, Dericote Street has refurbished early 19th-century linked pairs of two storeys over basements, nos. 4-18 and 5-23 they form a T-junction with the similar nos. 1-4 and 6-15 Croston Street, where others are being built in the same style.