At Mrs H.G. Wells's funeral on 22 October 1927, Virginia Woolf was surprised that HGW's 'typewritten sheets' were read by 'a shaggy, shabby old scholar', T.E. Page. In 1981, Niall Rudd wrote a short biography of the scholar and controversialist, who taught classics at Charterhouse, was once seen by Osbert Lancaster accompanying Lady Asquith down Bond St, and died a Companion of Honour and a trustee of the Reform Club. Page was an admirable Latinist, independent, commonsensical, and sharply aware of a world outside books. Even when wrong, he was sensible. This was the man whom James Loeb, a retired banker and huge benefactor of cultural causes and institutions, appointed in 1910 co-editor of his new Classical Library. His aim, Loeb wrote, in his prefatory 'Word' in the first 20 volumes, published in 1912, was to remedy the failure of schools to teach the young enough Latin or Greek 'to enable the student to get that enjoyment out of classical literature that made the lives of our grandfathers so rich'; the 'average reader', he said, therefore now needed help. Whether the top-heavy prose (or risible verse, if the translator had ambitions that way) and poor reliability of many of the earlier volumes really helped the good cause is open to doubt. Page's supervision was in some cases patently slack.
LRB 23 June 2005 | PDF Download