Howard Overing and Julian Russell Sturgis brothers

Member of The Hundred

Howard Overing and Julian Russell Sturgis brothers
Birth and death
1848 - 1920
Profession details
Novelist, Poet, Librettist, Lyricist
Related places
Alistair Grant
Mount Felix

© Courtesy of Elmbridge Museum

Howard Overing Sturgis (1855-1920) novelist. Howard was born in England, and like Julian attended Eton before going to Cambridge. He became friends with Henry James, E.M. Forster, and Edith Wharton. A homosexual, after the death of his parents, he bought a house in the country, which he named Queen's Acre, or Qu'acre, where 'Howdie' (as Sturgis was known) and his much-younger lover William Haynes-Smith (who he called 'the Babe') entertained their wide circle of friends, from gay young Etonians to literary figures such as James and Wharton. He is the subject of a memorable biographical sketch by E.M. Forster. His first two novels 'Tim: A Story of School Life' (1891), and 'All That Was Possible' (1895) were successful, but 'Belchamber' (1904), failed to find a readership despite being considered a masterpiece by Forster and Wharton, and inspiring Evelyn Waugh's 'Brideshead Revisited'.

Julian Russell Sturgis (1848 -1904) was an American-born novelist, poet, librettist and lyricist. He played amateur football for the Wanderers F.C. and won the FA Cup in 1873, the 1st American to play in an FA Cup Final team. Educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, he became a barrister and, unlike his brother, acquired British nationality. In 1885, Sturgis wrote the libretto for Arthur Goring Thomas's opera, 'Nadeshda', performed at Drury lane Theatre on 16th April 1885. His best-known libretto is the opera 'Ivanhoe' of 1891, written for Arthur Sullivan. W.S. Gilbert had declined to write the libretto for Sullivan's attempt at grand opera because he felt the librettist's role was subordinate to that of the composer. On Gilbert's recommendation Sullivan asked Sturgis, who wrote Ivenhoe, based on Sir Walter Scott's was performed at Richard D'Oyly Carte's new Royal English Opera House on 31st January 1891. Sturgis's novels are mostly about young men, in a style influenced by Walter Pater and George Meredith. Meredith was greatly admired by Sturgis and a close personal friend.

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