John Passmore Edwards
April 23, 2011 11:37 AM   Subscribe

"He did more good in his time than almost any other of his contemporaries" This week marks the 100th anniversary of the death of John Passmore Edwards. Philanthropist, activist, MP, journalist, editor and proprietor, chartist and pacifist, campaigner for peace, for the abolition of capital publishment and flogging and for provision of free libraries. His autobiography.

On public libraries: "All may not use them, but all may do so if they like; and as they are means of instructing and improving some, all are directly or indirectly benefited by them.”

He left a legacy of 70 public buildings, largely in London and Cornwall: libraries, hospitals, art galleries, schools and more. After campaigning for the Free Library Act of 1850 he personally paid for a new library in any Cornish town where the Act was adopted, plus the first 1000 books for each.
posted by biffa (3 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
He paid for the library in the town where I grew up, for which I'm extremely grateful. I'm sure we would have had some sort of library had Passmore Edwards not been involved, but probably nothing nearly so grandly Victorian, nor so lovely and cool in the summer.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:07 PM on April 23, 2011

Same here. I was shaped by the books I found in the library he funded. I hope this fact doesn't put future generations off emulating him. I also used to walk past the Passmore Edwards cottage hospital on my way home from school. People really can make the world a better place, and the effect of the things we do can echo for a long time. Thanks.
posted by howfar at 1:24 PM on April 23, 2011

Here is his autobiography link at, with more readable versions of his autobiography. Great post.
posted by mnfn at 5:07 AM on April 24, 2011

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