Frederick York Powell

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Frederick York Powell
File:Frederick York Powell 21 March 1895.jpg
Powell as caricatured by Spy (Leslie Ward) in Vanity Fair, March 1895
Born (1850-01-04)4 January 1850
43 Woburn Place, Bloomsbury, London
Died 8 May 1904(1904-05-08) (aged 54)
Staverton Grange, Banbury Road, Oxford
Resting place Wolvercote, Oxford
Nationality British
Education Rugby School
Alma mater Oriel College, Oxford
Occupation Historian
Title Regius Professor of Modern History
Term 1894-1904
Predecessor James Anthony Froude
Successor Charles Harding Firth

Frederick York Powell (4 January 1850 – 8 May 1904), was an English historian and scholar.


Frederick York Powell was born in Bloomsbury, London. Much of his childhood was spent in France and Spain, so that he early acquired a mastery of the language of both countries and an insight into the genius of the people. He was educated at Rugby School, and matriculated at Oxford as an unattached student, subsequently joining Christ Church, where he took a first-class in law and modern history in 1872. He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple in 1874, and married in the same year.

He became law-lecturer and tutor of Christ Church, fellow of Oriel College, delegate of the Clarendon Press, and in 1894 he was made Regius Professor of Modern History in succession to J. A. Froude. His contributions to history were not extensive, but he was a particularly stimulating teacher. He had been attracted in his school days to the study of Scandinavian history and literature, and he was closely allied with Professor Guðbrandur Vigfússon (d. 1889), whom he assisted in his Icelandic Prose Reader (1897), Corpus Poeticum Boreale (1887), and Origines Islandicae (1905), and in the editing of the Grimm Centenary papers (1886).[1]

He took a keen interest in the development of modern French poetry, and Paul Verlaine, Stéphane Mallarmé and Emile Verhaeren all lectured at Oxford under his auspices. He was also a connoisseur in Japanese art. In politics his sympathies were with the oppressed of all nationalities; he had befriended refugees after the Commune, counting among his friends Jules Vallès the author of Les Réfractaires; and he was also a friend of Stepniak and his circle.

In June 1901 he received an honorary doctorate (LL.D) from the University of Glasgow during celebrations for the university´s 450th jubilee.[2]

Powell was a member of the Folklore Society and became its President in the year that he died. The Society's journal, which had published his papers, printed an obituary by Edward Clodd. Part of his collection of artefacts were deposited at the Pitt Rivers Museum.[3]

See the Life, with letters and selections, by Oliver Elton (1906).


  1. "POWELL, F. York". Who's Who. Vol. 52. 1900. p. 816.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Glasgow University jubilee" The Times (London). Friday, 14 June 1901. (36481), p. 10.
  3. Petch, Alison. "Frederick York Powell". England: the other within. Pitt Rivers Museum. Retrieved 11 January 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Oliver Elton, Frederick York Powell: A Life and Selection from his Letters and Occasional Writings (1906)

  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

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  • Wikisource logo Works written by or about Frederick York Powell at Wikisource