Origins of AnstrutherClick on the Anstruther motto to access Anstruthers circa 1100
Anstruthers and the TartanAnstruther of That Ilk
Sir Ian Fife Campbell Anstruther, who s. 2003 to the three baronetcies Anstruther upon the death of his cousin, Sir Ralph Hugo Anstruther (1921-2002) - who was of H..M. Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother's Household.
Click on the crest (left) for "Anstruthers and the Tartan".
28th. November 1694 Anstruther of Balcaskie (Nova Scotia)
6th. January 1700 Anstruther of Anstruther (Nova Scotia)
18th. May 1798 Anstruther of Anstruther (Great Britain)
Ian Anstruther was educated at Eton and New College Oxford. During World War II he served in the Royal Corps of Signals and then joined the Diplomatic Service. After four years in America, he resigned to devote his time to writing.
Click on the '39-'45 wartime photograph below to access details of parents and siblings.

Ian Anstruther - parents and siblingsSection of cover design - 'The Andover Workhouse'Books by Ian Anstruther:

I Presume - 1957 - the story of H.M.Stanley's journey to find Dr. Livingstone.

The Knight and the Umbrella - 1963 - the unique picture of a glorious folly; an account of the Eglinton Tournament, 1839.
The Scandal of the Andover Workhouse - 1973 - a well-documented account of the workhouse system in England and Wales introduced by Lord Grey in 1834. This book exposes the cruelty and suffering brought about by the system through a detailed study of the Andover Workhouse.
Oscar Browning - 1983 - Biography of Oscar Browning (1837-1923) K.C.C.
Coventry Patmore's Angel - 1998 - a facsimile of the manuscript and a collation of the manuscript and first published edition providing a study of Coventry Patmore, his wife Emily and the poem, 'The Angel in the House'. It examines the woman behind Patmore's poem and explores Victorian society as it was reflected in the changing response to Patmore's poem. Two volumes - published under the auspices of Boston College. The work was edited by Ian Anstruther and prepared by Patricia Aske.

The Anstruther Project at the London Library 1998-2000

Original photograph by Jim Griffin8th March 2003 - Review of Ian Anstruther's most recent work from - The Spectator - London

Boys will be boys
Juliet Townsend

By Ian Anstruther
Haggerston Press, 19.95, pp.131, ISBN:1869812190

I have always been grateful that I first read Eric, or Little by Little at the age of nine, when I was able to take it completely seriously. Not for me the attitude of the cynical M’Turk in Stalky & Co, who, when faced with a moral dilemma, said mockingly, ‘We don’t want any beastly Erickin.’ I travelled hand in hand with Eric on every step of his downward path — from his early days with ‘bright blue eyes and noble face’ to his final degradation ‘fair hair matted and tangled, eyes sunken, dead and lustreless’ — sinking inexorably into an early grave. John Betjeman, who loved Victorian school stories, wrote in Summoned by Bells:

Those few who read Dean Farrar’s Eric now
Read merely for a laugh, yet still for me
That mawkish and oh-so-melodious book
Holds one great truth — through every page there runs
The schoolboy sense of an impending doom…

Well it might. Even in the laissez-faire world of the early Victorian boarding school, when at Eton it was considered acceptable to lose one boy every two years by drowning, the mortality rate at Roslyn School must have seemed excessive. Nowadays it would be considered a rich field for the talents of a risk assessment officer. Sometimes the reasons for death seem unconvincing. Eric’s noble friend, Russell, stranded on the rocky Stack by the tide, ‘had sprained the knee badly and given the tibia an awkward wrench … It was decided the leg must be amputated.’ He lingers for a few weeks of prayer and exhortation, with the weeping Eric at his bedside, ‘then there was a slight sound in his throat, and he was dead’. One can hardly blame Eric for taking to drink, especially when his little brother, Vernon, falls from the cliff while birdnesting and plunges to his doom on the rocks below. How I sobbed while the ripples of the incoming tide ‘played softly with his fair hair as it rose and fell … until they themselves were faintly discoloured by his blood’.

Ian Anstruther, in his excellent introduction to this welcome new edition, which includes the full text of the book, casts light on many fascinating aspects of Farrar’s life and its influence on this books for boys. It must be remembered that Eric was a huge bestseller, from its publication in 1858, one year after Tom Brown’s Schooldays, right up to the 1930s, when it was still bought by aunts and godmothers for boys departing for public school. By that time it must have seemed like meeting a dinosaur in the zoo, it is so completely out of tune with the hearty and healthy school stories written from the 1890s onwards. One cannot imagine P. G. Wodehouse or John Finnemore of the splendid Teddy Lester books wrestling with the problems of masturbation and homosexual affairs between schoolboys as Farrar does in only slightly veiled form in the chapter entitled ‘Dead Flies or Ye Shall be as Gods’, with the telling subheading ‘In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night’. One interesting fact which Ian Anstruther points out is that Farrar’s attitude to these sensitive subjects changed over the years. In the early editions he is quite open, writing passages like: ‘But Eric was too manly a little fellow to sink into the effeminate condition which usually grows on the young delectables who have the misfortune to be “taken up”…’ (by older boys). Later he toned this down, replacing ‘effeminate’ with ‘dependant’ and ‘delectables’ with ‘foolish little boys’. He cut down on the kissing too, and also physical contact. Wildney, once to be found ‘quietly sitting on Eric’s knee’, has moved in later editions to a seat by the fire.

Anstruther points out that Farrar was an observer and gripping storyteller without much creative imagination. Roslyn is clearly his own school, King William’s College, Isle of Man, with additional material derived from his experiences as a master at Marlborough and Harrow. Most of the characters are based on real people, often with barely disguised names. Eric’s own name, Eric Williams, can be extracted from that of his creator, Frederic William Farrar.

Certainly Farrar’s concern for sexual morality seems to have arisen from the state of affairs — in every sense of the word — which he found at Harrow. A boy who was there in the 1850s, when Eric was being written, recorded in his memoirs ‘Every boy of good looks had a female name, and was recognised either as a public prostitute or as some bigger fellow’s bitch.’ ‘Bitch was the word in common usage to indicate a boy who yielded his person to a lover.’ The whole situation was given a dubious legitimacy by the fact that the headmaster himself was having an affair with one of the boys. Farrar veils this whole distasteful subject in a dark mist of Evangelical obscurity:

Kibroth-Hattaavah! Many a young Englishman has perished there! Very pale their shadows rise before us. May every schoolboy be warned by the waving of their wasted hands, from that burning marl of passion where they found nothing but ruin and an early grave.

Although Dean Farrar’s career as headmaster of Marlborough, Dean of Canterbury, brilliant teacher and preacher and distinguished theologian was never crowned by the bishopric he felt he deserved, he was a well-known public figure in his day. It might have surprised him if he could have foreseen that, exactly 100 years after his death, his fame would rest almost entirely on a school story he had written as ‘a very young man … to reach the hearts of boys and serve the cause of public-school morality’. To any who want to sample the dark, powerful world of Roslyn School this is an admirable introduction.

Haggerston Press, Barlavington Estate, Petworth, Sussex GU 28 0LG, Tel: 01798 869260, Fax: 01798 869401