J. Meade Falkner
John Meade Falkner (8 May 1858 - 22 July 1932) was an English novelist and poet, best known for his 1898 swashbuckler, Moonfleet. Surprisingly for a successful novelist, he was also an extremely successful businessman, becoming chairman of the arms manufacturer Amstrong Whitworth during World War I.
He was born in Manningford Bruce, Wiltshire, spent much of his childhood in Dorchester and Weymouth and educated at Marlborough College and Hertford College, Oxford, graduating with a degree in History in 1882. After Oxford, he went to Newcastle as tutor to the family of Sir Andrew Noble, who ran Armstrongs of Newcastle, one of the largest arms manufacturers in the world. Falkner eventually followed him as chairman in 1916, hard though this is to equate with his interest in poetry, architecture and heraldry. In his business travels round the world, Falkner brought back antiquarian treasures of all kinds.
After his retirement as chairman in 1921 he became Honorary Reader in Paleography at Durham University, as well as Honorary Librarian to the Dean and Chapter Library. Falkner fell in love with Durham and, although he spent his later years traveling frequently, he called Durham his home, living in the Divinity House on Palace Green in front of the cathedral from 1902 until his death. There is a commemorative plaque there, while his monument is in the South Cloister of the cathedral.
In addition to his poetry, his three topographical guides (Oxfordshire, Bath and Berkshire) and his History of Oxfordshire he wrote three novels:
- The Lost Stradivarius (1895)
- Moonfleet (1898)
- The Nebuly Coat (1903)
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