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Mark Rutherford (William Hale White)

‘Mark Rutherford‘ was the pseudonym of William Hale White (1831-1913). Rutherford is generally classed as a minor Victorian novelist, and noted for his depiction of provincial dissenting life, and of the ’loss of faith’ of the Victorian period. There is much more to Hale White than this. Despite working for over thirty years as a civil servant, he wrote over a thousand newspaper articles, translated works by Spinoza, and wrote various works of literary criticism.

He has never had a wide following, but writers such as Andre Gide, D.H. Lawrence, and Arnold Bennett have all praised his work. The aim of this site is to make Mark Rutherford‘s work more widely known (particularly his journalism), and to act as a forum for discussions about Mark Rutherford.

Comments, criticisms, and especially contributions, are always welcome to David French
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Recent updates

June 2020

Obituary of Vincent Newey, one of the best and most sympathetic critics of the writings of William Hale White (‘Mark Rutherford’). by Bob Owens

April 2020

The Mark Rutherford society now has a facebook page

October 2019

**CANCELLED** Dr Mark Crees, Chairman of the Mark Rutherford Society, will be giving a talk entitled MARK RUTHERFORD’S PEOPLE on Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 12:30 pm - 3:00 pm at The Sharnbrook Hotel, Bedford Park Lane, Sharnbrook,  Bedford,MK44 1LX

Contact  01234 881473 or  B_Beeches@btinternet.com

ESU Social Members £21; Non-Members £24

March 2019

Mark Rutherford does not feature in the recent Book of Forgotten Authors (Christopher Fowler). As with his appearance as No. 1 in Radio 3's Unread Authors, it is difficult to know how to interpret this!

August 2018

Richard Wildman by Nick Wilde

It is with sadness that I report the death of one of our founder members, Richard Wildman at the age of 71 of progressive supranuclear palsy.  Richard was a noted local historian who published a number of books, mainly of photographs on Bedford.  Here is the Guardian Other Lives obituary by  his brother, Stephen:

My  brother Richard, who has died aged 71, was a respected authority on the history and architecture of Bedford, his home town.  From Bedford Modern School he went to read History at Clare College, Cambridge, in 1968 co-founding with Gavin Stamp the Cambridge University group of the Victorian Society.

While still a student, Richard took on the Harpur Trust in defence of the Bedford Modern School building (by Edward Blore, 1830-33) when threatened with total demolition as the school prepared to leave the town centre.  Thanks to his efforts, its façade remains as a noble frontage to an otherwise undistinguished commercial development.  He also took part in the newly-founded Bedford Society’s successful campaign to save Priory Terrace (1832), another of the town’s most distinguished buildings, to be sensitively refurbished by the architect Victor Farrar.

After teaching history in Bedford and serving as a borough councillor between 1973 and 1976, he became a secondhand bookseller, his shop in Mill Street (opposite the former Howard Congregational Chapel of 1849, which he had also campaigned to save) soon a constant focus of Bedford’s cultural life.  

Giving up the shop after nearly twenty years he was Archivist for BMS and Secretary of the Old Bedford Modernians Club for another sixteen years until overtaken by the onset of PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy).  He took pleasure in renewing the school’s association with one of its most famous old boys, Christopher Fry, whose last play A Ringing of Bells, written for and dedicated to the school, was performed at the Olivier Theatre in 2001 (happily, on Richard’s birthday).
Richard served on many local society committees, including the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society, the Bedford Architectural Archaeological & Local History Society (President, 1996-2009) and the Bedford Art Society, of which he had been President since 2010.

He wrote extensively on the town and its architecture, notably in Bygone Bedford (1974), Victorian and Edwardian Bedfordshire from Old Photographs (1978), Bedford: A Pictorial History (1991) and the Bedford volume of Britain in Old Photographs (1995).  Always ready to share his knowledge, he helped in the publication of Bedford’s Motoring Heritage (2003) and a history of Bedford Rugby Club.

I first met Richard Wildman when he was a student at Cambridge and I was  Reference Librarian at Bedford Public Library in what was to become the Harpur Suite when the new Central Library was opened next door.  

In 1981 Richard spoke at a Symposium supporting an exhibition marking 150 years since the birth of   Mark Rutherford  with a paper illustrated with slides called “Mark Rutherford's Bedford”. and when a group of us formed the Mark Rutherford Society in 2003 he was a founder member.  An inaugural meeting was held on July 12th and Richard led a short walking tour of places in Bedford associated with William Hale White as a boy and his novels as an author. Richard often led architectural tours of Bedford, the town he loved and knew so much about.

We kept in touch down the years both while he was a bookseller in Mill Street and as Archivist at Bedford Modern School as well as through our membership of the Bedford Archaeological and Architectural Society and latterly Colmworth Historical Society to which toward the end I gave him lifts with other members of what you could call “the Bedford contingent.”

I particularly remember his wide knowledge, not just of things Bedford but of the world in general. He had a aptitude for mimicry, often of our mutual friend G.M Lee the very learned scholar who haunted the library and worked on the Oxford Latin Dictionary. Richard had a good sense of humour but above all an amazing memory and it was sad to see him in his last days when his mind was as sharp as ever but his body weakening as a result of his illness.

June 2018

A Mark Rutherford Society symposium hosted by RIMAP at the University of Bedfordshire was held on 23 June 2018 titled 'Literature and ‘The Woman Question':

December 2015

Letters of Philip Webb to William Hale White available via google scholar

October 2015

A new Mark Rutherford newsletter has been published. Subscribe here.

October 2014

Web site moved from www.concentric.net/~djfrench to www.davidfrench.org.uk/markrutherford

March 2014

The latest Mark Rutherford newsletter is available. It contains a 'Review of the Year's Activities' (2013) by Nick Wilde, 'Researching Mark Rutherford in the 1940s – A Letter from Wilfred Stone', 'Complaint of a Forsaken Civil Servant' by Mark Crees , 'A Very Exciting Time: Arthur Smith in search of William Hale White' by Michael Brealey , 'Dorothy Vernon White and her Help to William Hale White Biographers' by Nick Wilde, Pierre Leyris's Introduction to the French Edition of The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford, introduced and translated by Nick Jacobs , a review: 'Bedford's Victorian Pilgrim – William Hale White in Context' by Michael Brealey, by Catherine Harland, and on the front cover a previously unknown photograph of The Cottage, Groombridge, the house in which Hale White died, with a note by Bob Owens.

July 2013

Nick Wilde's report of the Mark Rutherford symposium held on 22nd June.

August 2012

Michael Brealey, a member of the Society, has published a book about Mark Rutherford: Bedford's Victorian Pilgrim. It is available from the publisher's web site and from Amazon.

January 2012

Irvin Stock, author of a critical study of Hale White, has died aged 91. His obituary in the Boston Globe includes the following: "There is, of course, a sense in which any serious writer is sincere — honesty is a basic condition of his profession and some kind of truth its necessary raw material,'' he wrote in the book, "but we are rarely impelled, except perhaps in mitigation of the charge of failure, to place that word in the centre of a critical portrait. With Hale White, however, it must in fact go in the centre: It is the chief distinction of his work and the source of his finest effects.''

October 2011

Hale White's poem "This is the Night.." was on Poetry Please on Sunday 2nd October.