Edward Jenkins

Edward Jenkins

A carte-de-visite portrait of Edward Jenkins (1838-1910), author of the phenomenally successful satire Ginx’s Baby, first published in 1870. According to his obituary, he was ‘a man of considerable talent, which led him into many and varied paths with an equally varied degree of success’ (The Times, 6 June 1910, pg.13).

Born in India in 1838, Jenkins was the son of a Wesleyan missionary who afterwards settled in Canada. He was educated first in Montreal and then at the University of Pennsylvania, before reading law in London. He was called to the Bar in 1864. ‘It was in 1870 that his zeal for social reform prompted him to write the little book “Ginx’s Baby,” setting forth with deep feeling and high humour the career of a child born in poverty, to become the helpless object of philanthropic and sectarian rivalries.’

He also championed the Indian indentured labourers of British Guiana and he threw himself into the agitation on behalf of the agricultural labourers of England. His obituary calls him a ‘fervent Radical in questions of home politics’ though he was at the same time ‘a no less ardent Imperialist’ who stressed the need for a closer union between the nations forming the British Empire, though he offered keen opposition to Disraeli’s measure by which Queen Victoria became Empress of India. ‘His zeal for Imperial unity was at least as warm as his zeal for social betterment, and he addressed many meetings on the subject all over the country’. He was the Member of Parliament for Dundee from 1874 to 1880.

Edward Jenkins died in London on 4 June 1910, at the age of 71. He was survived by a wife, two daughters and five sons.

Photographed by Elliott and Fry of London.


Code: 125401
© Paul Frecker 2023