At the Circulating Library Author Information: Hon. Henry John Coke

Author: Hon. Henry John Coke (1827–1916)

Biography: The Honourable Henry John Coke was born in 1827 at Holkham, Norfolk, the son of Thomas William Coke (1754–1842), M.P. and 1st Earl of Leicester, and Lady Anne-Amelia Keppel (1803–1844), the daughter of the 4th Earl of Albemarle. Coke lived a roving life. He entered the navy in 1839, saw service in the Chinese War of 1840–1841, and left the navy in 1842 after the death of his father. He briefly attended Cambridge. He was in Vienna during the revolution of 1848, which led to the book Vienna in 1848 (1849). Afterwards, he crossed North America, ending California in time for the gold rush—which led to another book, A Ride over the Rocky Mountains (1852). In the 1850s, he stood unsuccessfully for parliament, served as private secretary to the Irish Secretary, and wrote two novels: High and Low (1854) and A Will and a Way (1858). In 1861 Coke married Lady Katherine Grey Egerton, the daughter of the Earl of Wilton, and thereafter lived a more settled life at Longford, the family estate in Derbyshire. In his memoir, Tracks of a Rolling Stone (1905), he recounts his many experiences. As his obituary sums up: "He was taken as a youth to Holland House and kissed by its illustrious mistress; he breakfasted with Rogers; he was an habitu√© of Mrs. Thistlethwaite's drawing-rooms in Grosvenor-square; he saw the great fight between Sayers and Heenan, and was the guest of Napoleon III at Compi√®gne." He died in 1916 in London.

References: Allibone; British Census (1881); Burke; DNB (Thomas William Coke); Times (14 November 1916)

Fiction Titles:

  1. High and Low: or, Life's Chances and Changes.  3 vol.  London: Hurst and Blackett, 1854.
  2. A Will and a Way: A Novel.  2 vol.  London: Hurst and Blackett, 1858.