The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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John Edward Courtenay Bodley, 1853-1925

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1853.06.06
Place of Birth: King Street, Hanley, Staffordshire
Date of Death: 1925.05.28
Place of Death: Cuckfield


John Edward Courtenay Bodley was an author, lawyer and barrister of the Inner Temple, and private secretary to Sir Charles Dilke. He was the son of Edward Fisher Bodley, a commercial traveller and pottery owner, and his second wife Mary Ridgway. In 1891 John Bodley married Evelyn Frances, the daughter of John Bell of Rushpool Hall, Yorkshire. They had two sons and a daughter but were divorced in 1908. In 1920 he married Phyllis Helen, the daughter of the Rev. Henry Joshua Lomax of Stoke Golding.


Bodley was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, where his friends included Oscar Wilde and Cecil Rhodes. He was called to the bar in 1874, practising in Oxford. In June 1880 he became political secretary to Sir Charles Dilke, resulting in his disinheritance. In 1884 he was appointed secretary of the royal commission on the housing of the working classes. His career came to an end when Dilke was involved in a divorce scandal in 1885.

Bodley visited South Africa in 1887-88 and the United States and Canada in 1888-89, and in 1890 settled in France, where he wrote his two volumed France (1898). Other publications include two lectures in 1906 on the separation of church and state in France and The Romance of the Battle-Line in France (1919). He was a corresponding member of the Institut de France, and was praised by Charles Maurras for becoming 'almost a Frenchman without ceasing to be an Englishman.'

Cardinal H. E. Manning intended Bodley to be his biographer, but this was not realised. Nevertheless, he was a contributor to Cardinal Manning and Other Essays (1912). He was also commissioned to write the official record of Edward VII's coronation (1903) and was awarded the Victorian Order, fourth class, which he refused.

Bodley socialised in JW's circle in Paris, being among those invited to his famous Sunday breakfasts. JW affectionately called him 'Bodelino' (#00493).


Jopling, Louise, Twenty Years of My Life, 1867 to 1887, London, 1925; Who Was Who: A Companion to Who's Who, vol. 2, 1916-1928, London, 1942; Leslie, Shane, Memoir of John Edward Courtenay Bodley, 1930; Gilley, Sheridan, 'John Edward Courtenay Bodley', 1993, Dictionary of National Biography Online, Oxford, 1997 (accessed 4 July 2003).