"Illusions connected with religion are
generally most difficult to remove"

John Meade Falkner was born on 8th May 1858 in Manningford Bruce, Wiltshire. He spent much of his childhood in Dorchester and Weymouth and was educated at Marlborough College and Hertford College, Oxford, graduating with a degree in history in 1882. After Oxford, he was a master at Derby School, then went to Newcastle as tutor to the family of Sir Andrew Noble, who ran Armstrong Whitworth, one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world. Falkner eventually followed him as chairman in 1915. After his retirement as chairman in 1921 he became Honorary Reader in Paleography at the University of Durham, as well as Honorary Librarian to the Dean and Chapter Library of Durham Cathedral. Falkner fell in love with Durham and, although he spent a lot of his later years travelling, he called Durham his home, living in the Divinity House (now the University Music School) on Palace Green in front of the cathedral.

In 1899, at the age of 40, he had married Evelyn Violet Adye who was then 29. The marriage lasted the rest of his life, but seems to have been, on his part at least, a relatively passionless affair, for he appears to have been a natural celibate. There were no children.

His writing career was relatively short. His first book, A Pocket Guide to Oxfordshire was published in 1894. This was followed by The Lost Stradivarius (1895), Moonfleet (1896) and, in 1899, A History of Oxfordshire. His last books were A Pocket Guide to Berkshire (1902), and The Nebuly Coat (1903). From then on, Falkner enjoyed the life of a somewhat reclusive scholar who was nonetheless amiable, and at times controversial in his opinions. He became, to his great delight, an honorary fellow of Hertford College. He died in 1932.


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