The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Edward Spencer Mott

Edward Spencer Mott

Born at Wall near Lichfield on 17 April 1844, Edward Spencer Mott was the second son of William Mott, a JP in Staffordshire. He was educated at Eton and at Sandhurst. In 1862, a year after this portrait was taken, he joined the 19th Foot and served on the frontiers of India and Burma. When he returned to England in 1867 he chucked the Army and for a while slept rough on the streets of London. He tried his hand at the stage and became a strolling actor, until in 1877 he joined the staff of the Sporting Times, finding fame as a racing tipster under the pseudonym Nathaniel Gubbins, a name later recycled by a successful and popular columnist during the Second World War. He also wrote a number of books on racing and several memoirs, which is how we know that at one stage of his life he found his bed on the benches of Victoria Embankment.

One unnamed reviewer called his autobiography ‘a record of absurd extravagance and folly and the blighting of a promising career’ though he admitted that the author had ‘always struck out pluckily, and though often submerged, never actually went to the bottom' (The Times, 10 May 1898).

Edward Spencer Mott (Nathaniel Gubbins) died on 5 June 1910, aged 65. He left effects valued at £2700.

Photographed by Camille Silvy of London on 31 January 1861.

Code: 126334
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