E. Temple Thurston

Last updated

E. Temple Thurston
Drawing of E. Temple Thurston.jpg
Ernest Charles Temple Thurston

(1879-09-23)23 September 1879
Halesworth, Suffolk, England
Died19 March 1933(1933-03-19) (aged 53)
Maida Vale, England

Ernest Charles Temple Thurston (23 September 1879 – 19 March 1933) was a British poet, playwright and author. [1]



Thurston was born in Halesworth, Suffolk, England, the youngest of four children of brewery manager Frank Joseph Thurston and his wife Georgina Temple. The family moved from Halesworth to Maidstone and then, after the death of Georgina in 1895, left England to live with Thurston Snr's mother in Ballintemple, Cork. Thurston began his writing career with the publication of two books of poems when he was sixteen, followed two years later by The Apple of Eden. [2]

It was while in Cork that Ernest met Katherine Cecil Madden, (1875–1911). She was older than her partner and had already enjoyed success as a journalist and novelist. The couple later married. [3] After living in various places, the couple settled in a house in Kensington, with visits to their country cottage at Ardmore, Ireland. [4] They lived together happily for some years and were known in literary circles, [5] with Thurston adapting some of his wife's novels for the stage. [6] Temple Thurston's marriage did not last. The couple separated when he moved out in 1907, and their divorce was formalised in 1910. [4] In September of the following year she was found dead in bed in a private hotel in Cork as the result of a seizure.

For many years, Temple Thurston found it difficult to make a living from writing and worked as a yeast merchant, brewer, research chemist, and commercial traveller before finally becoming a reporter. His first novel, The Apple of Eden was issued in a rewritten form in 1905, but it was not until the success of The City of Beautiful Nonsense, published by Newnes in 1909, that he found some kind of stability. [7]

In November 1924, Temple Thurston's second marriage ended. Joan Katherine (née Cann), whom he had married a year after his first divorce, told the divorce court that they had lived happily together until 1922, when her husband had engaged a private secretary, Emily Cowlin. Objecting to the fact that the two of them were "on friendly terms", Mrs Thurston left for a holiday in India, hoping that it would give her husband time to "get over it". While there, she received news that Emily Cowlin was expecting a baby. [8] The following summer Temple Thurston married Emily Cowlin at Kensington Register Office. It had been kept secret and only six people attended. Afterwards, the couple slipped away in a car before crowds had time to gather. [9]

Thurston wrote a total of forty books, from which seventeen motion pictures were made. In addition, he authored several theatrical plays, three of which were performed on Broadway and four of which were made into motion pictures. His best-known work for the stage is The Wandering Jew, a play based on the legend written in four parts, which was performed on Broadway in 1921. The play was adapted for a silent film of the same name in 1923, and a sound remake was released in 1933. His third wife, Emily, published the play as a novel in 1934.

At the end of February 1933, Thurston was taken ill after a game of golf in Rye. He was diagnosed with lumbago and influenza, symptoms further complicated by pneumonia, and he died at his home in Maida Vale on 19 March 1933. [10] [11] His wife, Emily, died in 1984.


Thurston's most successful books include The City of Beautiful Nonsense (1909) and The Flower of Gloster (1911), a story about a canal journey in England. Two film versions of The City of Beautiful Nonsense were made: a silent version in 1919, and a sound version in 1935. [12]

In 1929, a play he had adapted from his book Portrait of a Spy was banned by the Lord Chamberlain. Based on the WWI exploits of Dutch spy Mata Hari, the play had been set to open at the London Coliseum until the ban was announced a couple of weeks before. Since the book itself had attracted little controversy, Temple Thurston suspected that the establishment had had some late thoughts about offending the French, who had executed the spy. [13]


In 1967, Granada Television broadcast a 13-part children's serial called The Flower of Gloster, an updated version of Thurston's original. The serial was followed a few years later by a book of the same name, authored by the serial's producer Bill Grundy. [14]




Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eden Phillpotts</span> English author, poet and dramatist

Eden Phillpotts was an English author, poet and dramatist. He was born in Mount Abu, India, was educated in Plymouth, Devon, and worked as an insurance officer for ten years before studying for the stage and eventually becoming a writer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Kissam Vanderbilt</span> American businessman and horse breeder (1849–1920)

William Kissam "Willie" Vanderbilt I was an American heir, businessman, philanthropist and horsebreeder. Born into the Vanderbilt family, he managed his family's railroad investments.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Viola Dana</span> American actress (1897–1987)

Viola Dana was an American film actress who was successful during the era of silent films. She appeared in over 100 films, but was unable to make the transition to sound films.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alice Joyce</span> American actress (1890–1955)

Alice Joyce Brown was an American actress who appeared in more than 200 films during the 1910s and 1920s. She is known for her roles in the 1923 film The Green Goddess and its 1930 remake of the same name.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Katherine Cecil Thurston</span> Irish writer (1874-1911

Katherine Cecil Thurston was an Irish novelist, best known for two political thrillers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Silas K. Hocking</span> British writer, preacher, journalist

Silas Kitto Hocking was a British novelist and Methodist preacher. He is known for his novel for youth called Her Benny (1879), which was a best-seller.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Edwards (actor)</span> English actor

Henry Edwards was an English actor and film director. He appeared in more than 80 films between 1915 and 1952. He also directed 67 films between 1915 and 1937.

Harry Rountree was a prolific illustrator working in England around the turn of the 20th century. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, he moved to London in 1901, when he was 23 years old.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chrissie White</span> British actress

Chrissie White was a British film actress of the silent era. She appeared in more than 180 films between 1908 and 1933. White married actor and film director Henry Edwards in 1922, and in the 1920s the two were regarded as one of Britain's most newsworthy celebrity couples. Edwards directed more than 20 of his wife's films. The couple had two children, a son and a daughter, actress Henryetta Edwards. White starred in the 1920 film The Amazing Quest of Mr. Ernest Bliss, which as of August 2010 is missing from the BFI National Archive, and is listed as one of the British Film Institute's "75 Most Wanted" lost films.

Henry Vibart was a Scottish stage and film actor, active from the 1880s until the early 1930s. He appeared in many theatrical roles in the UK and overseas, and featured in over 70 films of the silent era.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jay Laurier</span> English actor

James Alexander Chapman, known by his stage name, Jay Laurier, was an English actor. Early in his career he was a music hall performer, but by the late 1930s he was playing in the works of Shakespeare at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon as well as having a career in films.

Hepworth Picture Plays was a British film production company active during the silent era. Founded in 1897 by the cinema pioneer Cecil Hepworth, it was based at Walton Studios west of London.

The City of Beautiful Nonsense was a best-selling novel written by Ernest Temple Thurston. It became the inspiration for two films. It was originally published by Chapman and Hall in 1909, but because the copyright has expired, the text of the book is now in the public domain. There was a "new and illustrated" edition, with illustrations by Emile Verpilleux, published a year later in 1910. It may fairly be described as a sentimental novel: Temple Thurston himself wrote that "To many, from the first page to the last, it had not the faintest conception of reality, and indeed has earned for me the classification of sentimentalist". This was in the Author's Note to the sequel, entitled The World of Wonderful Reality, published a decade later in 1919. His obituary in The Times stated that "there were those who might suggest that sentimentalism was too evident in Temple Thurston's work". As well as being a vehicle for Edwardian romanticism, the novel shares the Roman Catholic faith of its author with its main characters. It is a tale of two cities: mainly Edwardian London, but also Venice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eric Maturin</span> British actor

Eric Bagot Maturin was a British actor whose acting career began in 1905 and whose first film appearance was in 1919 during the era of silent films.

<i>The Flower of Gloster</i> 1911 book by E. Temple Thurston

The Flower of Gloster is a 1911 book by E. Temple Thurston. Published by Williams and Norgate, it sold well enough to merit a second edition two years later. A third unillustrated edition was published by Chapman and Hall in 1918, after which the book remained out of print for over half a century until being republished by David & Charles in 1968. A year before that, ITV had broadcast a 13-part children's serial of the same name loosely based on Thurston's original narrative.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Newnes Ltd</span> British publisher

George Newnes Ltd is a British publisher. The company was founded in 1891 by George Newnes (1851–1910), considered a founding father of popular journalism. Newnes published such magazines and periodicals as Tit-Bits, The Wide World Magazine, The Captain, The Strand Magazine, The Grand Magazine, John O'London's Weekly, Sunny Stories for Little Folk, Woman's Own, and the "Practical" line of magazines overseen by editor Frederick J. Camm. Long after the founder's death, Newnes was known for publishing ground-breaking consumer magazines such as Nova.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Winifred Graham</span> English novelist and anti-Mormon activist

Winifred Graham was an English novelist and anti-Mormon activist.

Langford Reed was a British author, writer and collector of limericks, scriptwriter, director and actor of the silent film era.


  1. The Oxford Companion to Edwardian Fiction, Kemp, Mitchell, Trotter, OUP, 1997
  2. "Mr. E. Temple Thurston" . Obituaries. The Times. No. 46397. London. 20 March 1933. p. 14. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  3. "Well known novelists in divorce", Yorkshire Telegraph and Star, 7 April 1910
  4. 1 2 "Probate, Divorce, And Admiralty Division" . Law. The Times. No. 39241. London. 8 April 1910. p. 3. Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  5. Report of Lyceum Club dinner, "Men and Books", London Daily News, 13 March 1907
  6. Announcement for St James's Theatre, London Daily News, 9 June 1905.
  7. Gloucestershire Echo, 20 March 1933
  8. "Private secretary as the co-respondent", Cheltenham Chronicle & Gloucester Graphic, 22 November 1924
  9. "Noted novelist weds in secret", Gloucestershire Echo, 14 August 1925.
  10. Obituary, The Stage. 23 March 1933
  11. Obituary, Belfast News-Letter, 20 March 1933,
  12. Temple Thurston, E, The Flower of Gloster, new edition with photographs and introduction by David Viner, Alan Sutton Publishing, 1984.
  13. "Temple Thurston play banned", Nottingham Evening Post. 19 January 1929.
  14. The Flower of Gloster. Grundy, Bill, Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd, London, 1970.