Oxford University, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3PA
Percy Lancelot Osborn (1870-1951) was the author of two books: Rose Leaves from Philostratus (‘adapted into English verse from the Greek epistles’), published At the Sign of the Unicorn in 1901; and The Poems of Sappho (‘Poems, Epigrams and Fragments: Translations and Adaptations’), issued by Elkin Mathews in 1909. Heartsease and Orchid (1892) is cited as example in Sexual Heretics: Male Homosexuality in English Literature from 1850-1900, by Brian Reade.
Percy Lancelot Osborn was born at Blackburn, co. Lancashire, in 1870, the third son of Edward Haydon Osborn (1832 Lutton Valence, Kent - 1908 Paddington, London), arm. Edward was educated at Oxford University and in 1861 the family were living at Upper Gower Street, London; Edward is 27 years old and his occupation is listed as B.A. Oxford; he is living at the address with his mother Mary who is head of the household, his sister Emily M Osborn aged 30, his brother William aged 23 and his sister Florence aged 12. In 1866 Edward Haydon Osborn married Augusta Keturah Richardson (1843 Chelsea, London - 1905 Paddington, London). They had the following children: Edward Bolland Osborn (1867-1938), William Evelyn Osborn (1868-1906), Percy Lancelot Osborn (born 1870), H.A. Mary Osborn (born 1875), Harry Lonsdale Osborn (1878-1893).
In the 1871 census the family are living in Blackburn, Lancashire and Percy's father Edward Haydon is listed as occupation: 'Inspector of Factories'. The family have two servants: Charlotte Ballinger, aged 23 from Whitechapel, Middlesex, and Susannah Woods, 33 from Bolton-Le-Sands, Lancashire. Ten years later in the 1881 census they are in Castleton, Rochdale, Lancashire living in Garden Street. There are two additions to the family, namely Mary and Harry Lonsdale Osborn. Edward Haydon still works as an 'H. M. Inspector of Factories' and the family has no servants.
Percy Lancelot Osborn attended Magdalene College, Oxford, matric. on 14 October 1889, aged 19, coming from Manchester Grammar school. He obtained a first in classical mods. in 1891. At Oxford, he contributed to The Spirit Lamp, the journal edited by Lord Alfred Douglas. It was redolent with the aesthetic and decadent ambience of the 1890s. His work appeared under his initials, as by ‘P.L.O.’ He translated Baudelaire and in one issue offered, from Meleager, ‘The Garland of Boyhood’s Flowers’, a paean to Greek youths.
In the 1891 census the Osborn's are living in Hare Street, Castleton, Lancashire and Percy who is 20 years old lists his occupation as 'Student'. Also at the address is his father Edward Haydon as head of the household aged 59, 'H M Inspector of Factories 1st Class'; his mother Augusta aged 43, his brother William Evelyn, aged 23 an 'Artist Painter' and his sister Harriette A M Osborn aged 16. Percy published two books: ‘Rose Leaves from Philostratus and Other Poems’ (1901) which are his translations from the Greek poet of the Roman Imperial period, Philostratus, and ‘The Poems of Sappho: Poems, Epigrams and Fragments. Translations and Adaptations.’ Translated by Percy Lancelot Osborn. (1909)
Nothing seems to be known of Percy Osborn after his second book. His brother, E.B. (Edward Bolland) Osborn, who also contributed to The Spirit Lamp, was later the literary editor of the highly respectable Morning Post newspaper, an anthologist and general man-of-letters, most known for The Muse in Arms, his anthology of First World War poems. There is always a sense of fleetingness in Percy Osborn’s work: we are left to wonder if he was another of those from what Yeats called the Tragic Generation, who succumbed young.
In the 1901 census taken on 31st March, Percy, aged 30 is in Hanworth, Norfolk. He is listed as a boarder at the home of the Reverend Richard H O Banker (Church of England) aged 41, born in Purton, Buckinghamshire. Also at the address is Richard's wife Maud M A Banker, 37 from Wotton, Herefordshire; Conrad D R O Banker, aged 17 born Cleredon, Somersetshire and the two servants: Kate Brown, 26 from Horton, Northamptonshire and Elizabeth C Armstrong, 23 from Goldington, Bedfordshire. Percy's occupation is listed as 'Tutor' so it is probably safe to suggest he is tutoring the Reverend Banker's son, Conrad. His father Edward now aged 69, mother Augusta, 54 and sister A H Mary aged 24 are living at 152 Elgin Avenue, Paddington, London where they remain for some time (they are still there in 1909). Edward is described as being a 'Home Office Inspector of Factories' and they have one servant named C L Ballinger, aged 54 (born 1847 in Stratford, Essex), she is described as a 'Housekeeper Domestic'.
In the 1911 census Percy, aged 40, single and living on 'Private Means' is living at 23 Kilburn Priory, Hampstead, London, at the home of Henry George Strugnell aged 49 (born 1862, Box, Wiltshire) a 'Cab Driver'. Henry's wife (they were married in 1887 at St George's Hanover Square, London) Josephine Francois Strugnell nee Clement, aged 50 is a 'French Resident'. Their daughter Florence Eugenie Marie Strugnell, aged 23 (born 1888 in Hammersmith, Middlesex) is listed under occupation as 'Book Keeper Provision'. Also boarding at the address are: Zillah Barker, aged 43 (born 1868 of Hammersmith, Middlesex), single female living on 'Private Means'; Joseph Wecks, 30 (born 1881, Copthorne, Sussex) a single 'Butcher Worker', and Edith Borritt, aged 30 (born 1881, Hornsey, Middlesex) who is a single 'Shop Assistant'.
It is not altogether known when Percy died but there is some evidence to suggest he may have lived until the beginning of 1951 where there is a death recorded for Percy L Osborn, died in St Pancras, London aged 80.
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