UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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John Henry Gray, 1866-1934

Nationality: British
Date of Birth: 1866.03.09
Place of Birth: London
Date of Death: 1934.06.14.
Place of Death: Edinburgh

Identity:

John Gray was an author and poet and priest, a friend of Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Sturgis.

Life:

An important figure in Edinburgh's social life and one of the founders of Edinburgh Zoo, John Henry Gray had an unusually varied career. Originally a government official in London, Gray became a published poet and, along with his closest friend Andre Raffalovich, wrote a play called the Blackmailers, which was performed at the Prince of Wales Theatre in June 1894. Despite his literary success, Gray's life was to take another dramatic change, when in 1898 he entered the Scots' College in Rome and trained to become a Priest. After being ordained he moved to Edinburgh and with the help of Raffalovich had St Peter's Church built. During his career in the Catholic Church he advanced to become a Canon.

Gray continued to write poetry, publishing a small collection for children in 1904 and a volume called The Long Road in 1926. A friend of Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Sturgis, Gray wrote the preface for Aubrey Beardsley's Letters. A handsome man, it has been suggested that he was the inspiration for Wilde's book The Picture of Dorien Gray. In 1890 Gray mentioned Whistler's etchings in a letter to Felix Fenelon (#12319 #12320) and would probably have known Whistler through his friendship with Wilde.

Bibliography:

Times, London, 19 June 1934; p.16; www.library.utoronto.ca (accessed 2004.09.28)