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Home arrow BFR Matters I arrow Fletcher Robinson & Rowing (Part IV)
Fletcher Robinson & Rowing (Part IV) PDF Print E-mail
In October 1892, BERTRAM FLETCHER ROBINSON (hereafter BFR) began writing for a weekly journal called The Granta.  It was owned and edited by one of its co-founders called Rudolph Chambers Lehmann. The Granta catered for the rising demand amongst Cambridge undergraduates for “light-verse of topical interest”.  At that time, Lehmann was also writing for Punch and residing in London.  Hence, he appointed a series of Student Sub-Editors to manage the day-to-day running of The Granta.  The third such Sub-Editor was Robert Pentland Mahaffy of King's College.  Later, Mahaffy wrote the following account about the circumstances that surrounded his own appointment to the staff of The Granta:

When I became Cambridge editor in the Autumn of 1892, there had been great changes in our staff at Cambridge.  All our principal writers had gone down [graduated], especially the poets. I was left almost entirely without poets, rowing correspondents, football [rugby] correspondents, or anything else.  It is wonderful however, how quickly one finds poets; in a very few weeks I had discovered a new nest of singing bird…B. F. Robinson, of Jesus, was my Rugby man, and afterwards, when he was editor of Vanity Fair and then of The World, I would tell him that I had launched him.

During October 1893, BFR succeeded Mahaffy as the Sub-Editor of The Granta.  Around April 1895, BFR was commissioned to write a book for The Isthmian Library Series on Sports and Pastimes [see 'Fletcher Robinson & Rugby (Part VII)'].  At that same time, both BFR and Lehmann resigned their respective positions with The GrantaBFR then relocated to London where he lodged with Trevor Lewis and Percy Illingworth [see 'Fletcher Robinson & Rowing (Part III)']. 

On 14th October 1896, BFR's first book entitled Rugby Football was published by A. D. Innes & Company Limited of London.  Shortly thereafter he was appointed as the Editor of The Isthmian Library Series on Sports and Pastimes.  One of his first duties was to edit a book that was written by Lehmann.  The publication of this book was announced by the The Times newspaper on 24th November 1897 as follows (pp.10):


                 Rowing.  By R. C. Lehmann.  With contributions by

                     Guy Nickalls, G. L. Davis, C. M. Pitman, W. E.

                      Crum, and E. G. Blackmore.  Vol. IV. of the

                  "Isthmian" Library, edited by B. Fletcher Robin-

                                son.  Illustrated. 5s. Innes. 


Fig. 1  Front cover and title page of Rowing by R.C. Lehmann (1897).
Lehmann was educated at Trinity College at Cambridge University (1874-1878).  During that time he rowed for the 1st Trinity Boat Club (Captain), Cambridge University VIII and the 'Trial Eight' (twice). Later, Lehmann was elected both Honorary Secretary of the British Amateur Rowing Association (1893-1901) and the Captain of the Leander Club (1894-1896). He also coached various 'Men's Eights' teams including Oxford University, Harvard University, Cambridge University, Leander Club, Dublin University and Berlin Rowing Club. 
Rowing is dedicated to one Herbert Thomas Steward.  He was the Chairman of the Amateur Rowing Association (1881-1915), Chairman of the Committee of Management for the Henley Royal Regatta (1885-1915) and the President of the Leander Club (1891-1915).  This book consists of 346 pages and 17 chapters and it is illustrated throughout with photographs.  Lehmann wrote 12 of these chapters himself and the remaining 6 chapters were contributed as follows:
  • x. Sculling by Guy Nickalls. Oxford rowing 'Blue' (1887/88/89/90/91).  
  • xi. Steering by George Latham Davis. Cambridge rowing 'Blue' (1875/76/77/78).
  • xii. College Rowing at Oxford by Charles Murray Pitman. 'Captain of the Boats' at Eaton College (1891). President of the Oxford University Boat Club (1895). Oxford rowing 'Blue' (1892/93/94/95).
  • xiii. Rowing at Eton College by Walter Erskine Crum. 'Captain of the Boats' at Eaton College (1893). President of the O.U.B.C. (1896-1898). Oxford rowing 'Blue' (1894/95/96/97).
  • xv. Australian Rowing by Edwin Gordon Blackmore.  Member of the Committee of the City of Adelaide Regatta (1884-1887). Chairman of the South Australian Rowing Club (1889-1898).
Rowing was advertised in The Times newspaper on 5th October 1897 (pp. 10), 15th October 1897 (pp. 10), 29th October 1897 (pp. 8), 26th November 1897(pp. 12), 14th December 1897 (pp. 14) and 17th December 1897 (pp. 10).  On 18th December 1897, that same newspaper published a review that included the following comment (pp. 3):

                            "Rowing" by R.C. Lehmann-No. 4. of

                        the Isthmian Library-has for its object not

                    merely to give such hints to the novice as may

                   enable him to master the rudiments of oarsman-

                     ship, but also to commend to him the sport of

                    rowing as a noble open-air exercise, fruitful in

                      lessons of strength, courage, discipline, and

                  endurance, and as an art which requires a sense

                      of rhythm, a perfect balance of symmetry of

                       bodily effort, and the graceful control and

                     repose which lend an appearance of ease to

                   the application of the highest muscular energy.


On 27th November 1897, Lawrence and Bullen Limited of London published a book entitled Football by BFR and others for The Suffolk Sporting Series (Vol. 2).  Shortly thereafter, BFR was commissioned to make a contribution to a further volume in that same series.  On 28th July 1898, this book was advertised in The Times newspaper as follows (pp. 8):
                                              PUBLICATIONS TO-DAY 
                         ROWING, PUNTING, AND PUNTS [Sic]. By D. H. McLean
                            and W. H. Grenfell.  1s.  Lawrence and Bullen.
Fig. 2  Front cover of Rowing & Punting (1898).
Rowing & Punting is the fourth and final volume for The Suffolk Sporting Series on SportThis book was edited by Henry Charles Howard shortly before he died (18th Earl of Suffolk and 11th Earl of Berkshire).  Rowing & Punting is 95 pages in length and is illustrated throughout with photographs. It includes chapters about rowing at both Oxford and Cambridge University. The two co-authors were Douglas Hamilton McLean and William Henry Grenfell.  McLean was educated at Oxford University and he was a rowing 'Blue' (1883/84/85/86/87).  Grenfell was also educated at Oxford University and he too was a rowing 'Blue' (1887/88).  Furthermore, he was a former President of O.U.B.C. (1878) and had won the Amateur Punting Championship (1888/89/90).  The remaining contributor, Reginald Percy Pfeiffa Rowe, was also a former President of O.U.B.C. (1892) and a rowing 'Blue' (1889/90/91/92).  Furthermore, he had twice won the Grand Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta with the Leander Club (1891/92).

After 1898, BFR wrote at least five articles about rowing.  These included four items about the Henley Royal Regatta and the 'Varsity Boat Race that were each published by The Daily Express newspaper [see 'Fletcher Robinson & Rowing (Part II)' and 'Fletcher Robinson & Rowing (Part III)'].  In August 1906, the Windsor Magazine also published an article that was written by BFR and that is entitled Rowing, Games, and Athletics (pp. 279-296).  This item includes a pastiche of cartoon caricatures of famous sportsmen that were collected from Vanity Fair (BFR was the Editor of this periodical between 1905 and 1907).  Amongst the prominent oarsmen featured in BFR's article are Rudolph Chambers Lehmann, Guy Nickalls and Walter Crum.  

It is interesting to note that there is an 'Isthmian Stand' at the Henley Royal Regatta. Furthermore between 1896 and 1901, BFR wrote 1 book and edited 8 books for The Isthmian Library Series on Sports and Pastimes [see 'BFR Bibliography'].

For further information about Rudolph Chambers Lehmann, please follow the links below:




By Paul Spiring © 2007.

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