George Payne Rainsford James, one of the famous group of English novelists who wrote during the heydey of English literature, was born in London April 9, 1799. He received his education at Putney. During the wars with Napoleon he was captured by the French and, while a prisoner, fought a duel and killed a French officer. On his return to London he took up literature, and in the course of twenty years wrote more than a hundred romances, all of which were successful at the time, but are now almost forgotten. He also wrote many historical works and biographies, and a few dramas and poems. In 1850 he was appointed British consul to Boston, and two years later to Virginia, where he remained until 1856 when he became consul-general in Austria. He died in Venice June 9, 1860, and was survived by his widow, three sons and a daughter.
Beadle reprinted but one of James' novels, "Margaret Graham," which originally appeared in 1847.
REFERENCES: Allibone, Dict. Eng. Lit., I; Athenaeum, II, 1860, 856; Kunitz and Haycraft, British Authors, 1936, 324-25, with portrait. There is a fine steel engraving of him in the Peterson edition of "The Cavalier."
Waverley Library (quarto). No. 139