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Farjeon, Benjamin Leopold


FARJEON, BENJAMIN LEOPOLD (1838–1903), English novelist. Farjeon, who was born in London into an Orthodox family of North African origin, went to Australia at the age of 17. He eventually became editor and part owner of the first daily newspaper in New Zealand, the Otago Daily Times. Returning to England in 1868, he published his first novel, Grif (1870), a story of Australian life, which became his best-known work. Farjeon modeled his work on Dickens and later on Wilkie Collins, first writing Christmas pieces and then mystery stories. His 40 novels included several with Jewish subjects, among them Solomon Isaacs (1877), Fair Jewess and Aaron the Jew (1894), Miriam Rozella (1897), and Pride of Race (1900). He portrayed Jews sympathetically, but was inclined to sentimentality. Farjeon married Margaret Jefferson, daughter of a famous American actor, and three of their children – who had no connection with the Jewish community – were well-known writers. joseph jefferson farjeon (1883–1955) wrote novels, plays, and The Compleat Smuggler (1938). herbert farjeon (1887–1945) was drama critic for several London papers and wrote light verse and revues. eleanor farjeon (1881–1965) wrote fiction, verse for children and, with her brother Herbert, a comedy, The Two Bouquets (1936). She was the author of the famous hymn, "Morning Has Broken," which has in recent years become a popular hit song. Her depiction of her early life, A Nursery in the Nineties, gives a warm portrayal of her father. On her death, the Children's Book Circle of England established an annual award in her honor. Her brother, harry farjeon (1878–1948), was a well-known composer of light classical music.


M.F. Modder, Jew in the Literature of England (1939), 311–7. add. bibliography: B. Cheyette, "From Apology to Revolt: Benjamin Farjeon, Amt Levy, and the Post-Emacipation Jewish Novel, "in: jhset, 29 (1982–86), 253–66; A. l. Farjeon, Morning Has Broken: A Biography of Eleanor Farjeon (1986); D.M. Blakelock, Eleanor: Portrait of a Farjeon (1966); odnb online for Benjamin Farjeon and Eleanor Frajeon.

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