The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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George Somes Layard, 1857-1935

Nationality: British
Date of Birth: 1857.02.04
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1935.05.30
Place of Death:


George Somes Layard was a barrister, author, reviewer and print collector. He was the son of Rev. C. C. Layard. He married Eleanor Byng, the daughter of Thomas Gribble.


Layard studied law at Trinity College, Cambridge, and became a barrister-at-law on the Western Circuit and a member of the Inner Temple. He was one of the Malvern Hills Conservators from 1900 to 1902.

Layard also contributed to leading newspapers and journals such as Scribner's Magazine, Nineteenth Century, Pall Mall Gazette, Bibliographica and Magazine of Art, as well as to the Dictionary of National Biography and Times Supplement of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He was the author of Tennyson and his Pre-Raphaelite Illustrators (1894), and also published works on Lynn Linton and George Cruikshank. He was authorised by the family of Charles Keene to write Keene's biography and was in correspondence with JW in 1891 with regard to his research. His article, 'Charles Keene of Punch', appeared in Scribner's Magazine in April 1892 (vol. 11, issue 4).

Layard was once again in contact with JW in 1898 when he was writing a series on 'Suppressed Plates' for the Pall Mall Gazette. He asked permission to reproduce George Du Maurier's illustration of 'The Two Apprentices' from Trilby, a book which had offended JW, who had felt that he had been caricatured as the 'Idle Apprentice' [#02493].

Layard invented a system for the Federation of Private Libraries and privately printed a book entitled, The Gentle Art of Booklending, drawing from JW's Gentle Art of Making Enemies (1890). In 1898 he likened JW's book to the Old Testament, describing it as 'favourite Sunday reading for me'. He requested a copy of JW's Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly (1899) from the artist in 1898, declaring that it was to be his New Testament (#02494).


Kelly's London Postal Directory, London; Who Was Who, 1929-1940, London, 1941.