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Famous Devonians

You are in: Devon > Discover Devon > Famous Devonians > Sabine Baring-Gould

Sabine Baring-Gould

Sabine Baring-Gould

Sabine Baring-Gould

Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924) was a prolific novelist, hymn writer and collector of traditional folk songs.

The Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould is best known for writing the hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers.

But he is also thought to have inspired his friend George Bernard Shaw to write Pygmalion - which was later made into the film, My Fair Lady.

Baring-Gould was himself a prolific writer and was said to be the tenth most popular novelist of his day.

At one point there were more books listed under his name in the British Museum Library than any other English writer.

Sabine Baring-Gould

Baring-Gould was a prolific writer

He was born in Exeter in 1834, and his family owned the Lewtrenchard Estate near Lydford in west Devon.

He took Holy Orders in 1864 and became a curate at Horbury in Yorkshire.

It was in Horbury that he met mill girl Grace Taylor. He sent her away to be educated and then married her in 1868.

The couple were married for 48 years until Grace's death in 1916 and they had 15 children!

However Baring-Gould appears to have had little understanding of his offspring. Apparently at a children's party one evening he called to a young child "And whose little girl are you?" The child burst into tears and said "I'm yours Daddy".

Baring Gould wrote Onward Christian Soldiers while at Horbury, and was amazed at its popularity.

He said he had dashed the words off in no more than 10 minutes as an occasional piece for a procession of school children.

He returned to Lewtrenchard in 1881, where he was the squire and parson.

It's believed he had more than 200 works published, but the thing he was most proud of was his collection of folk songs from Devon and Cornwall, called 'Songs of the West.'

He spent 12 years travelling in the two counties, learning the songs from old singers and then publishing them.

Baring-Gould died at Lewtrenchard in 1924 aged 90, and his body was buried in his own churchyard.

last updated: 30/01/2008 at 15:44
created: 30/01/2008

You are in: Devon > Discover Devon > Famous Devonians > Sabine Baring-Gould

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