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Driver, Henry Austin, 1790-1862 (stationer and poet)



  • Existence: 1790 - 1862


Henry Austin Driver (1790-1862) was born in Cambridge on 6 December 1790, the second son of Thomas Driver (d. 1821), perfumer, of Market Street, and his wife Charlotte (d. 1843), née Hunter. Driver's early employment was in an office in Cambridge. In 1810 or 1811 he moved to London, where he worked as a clerk for the firm of Marsh and Creed, Navy Agents, moving in 1815 or 1816 to the mercantile house of William Mitchel. After Mitchel's bankruptcy in 1826 Driver set about forming his own business as a stationer. In this capacity he received the Freedom of the City of London in 1841, but went bankrupt in 1853. He died in 1862 and was buried in Highgate cemetery. Driver achieved a modest reputation in his own day as a poet in the traditions of Byron and Thomas Moore. Two of his poetic works were published, The Arabs in 1825 and Harold de Burun in 1835. In addition, he published in 1838 a pamphlet entitled Byron and the Abbey, in which he urged the need for a monument for the poet whom he admired greatly. In the 1840s he attempted to set his hand to an historical discussion of the Fine Arts, cast in the form of a novel which consisted almost entirely of long, didactic speeches by the main protoganists. This was not completed. Towards the end of his life he wrote a poem entitled Bella Italia!, praising the Italian struggle for freedom and unification, which also remained unpublished. Driver's publications brought him a degree of fame. The appearance of The Arabs prompted invitations to him from the publisher Samuel Maunder to contribute to Richard Dagley's anthology Death's Doings (both editions), and his later works brought him commissions from Marguerite, Countess of Blessington. Driver was also an active member of the Islington Literary and Scientific Society (later called the Islington Literary and Scientific Institution). In 1815 Driver met Mary Ingle, second daughter of John Ingle, a farmer, of Shepreth. After a prolonged and fluctuating courtship they were married in London in 1826. Most of their married life was spent in Islington. There were at least six children of the marriage. The eldest, Alfred George, entered the stationery business, working for some years for the firm of Waterlow and Sons and later holding a partnership in the firm of Drake, Driver and Leaver, Ltd. Three of the younger children emigrated to Australia in the 1850s. Mary Driver died in 1874 and was buried in Highgate cemetery. H.A. Driver's eldest brother, Thomas O'Brien Mills Driver, is also featured in the collection. He was born in Cambridge on 4 February 1789. In 1806 he went to London to work, and in 1810 he was employed by the firm of Marsh and Creed, Navy Agents. In 1813 he current employer, Alexander Thomson, recommended him to William Gray, Agent for Victualling His Majesty's Ships in Bermuda, whither Thomas went in 1813-14. He worked there until the 1830s, at which time he returned to England. He entered into partnership in 1817 with a member of the prominent Bermudian merchant family of Musson. Their auctioneering business did not prosper, and it had collapsed by 1824. Thomas Driver was a painter and won a small reputation for his work. Frederick William Driver, the youngest of the Driver brothers, was born in Cambridge on 17 July 1794. By 1812, he had also moved to London, although his uncertain health and the national economic difficulties of the years after 1815 impeded his chances of regular employment. In 1826 he married Frances Baker of London; by 1839 the family were living in Truro, Cornwall. Later they lived in London. The collection also features Mrs. Charlotte Driver's brother Thomas, who was in partnership in London with William Loder Browne, and whose wife Catherine (or possibly Katherine) was probably a sister of Thomas Driver, senior. H.A. Driver and his brothers spent much time with both families in London, especially prior to the collapse of the firm of Browne and Hunter in 1819. H.A. Driver also corresponded for several years with another of the Hunter sisters, Mrs. E.C. Garrett, who lived at Barrington, Cambridgeshire, with her husband, until the latter's death in 1816, after which she moved to Strood in Kent to run a school with the help of Mary Patterson, daughter of the third Hunter sister.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:


Henry Austin Driver and family: Letters and Papers

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.8198
Scope and Contents The collection covers much of H.A. Driver's life and career, although not all aspects and periods are fully illustrated. Other family members are featured, but the papers concerning them tend to be fragmentary and allusive. The collection comprises two boxes. The first holds 24 bundles of letters and papers and two travel journals, all relating to Driver or to members of his family (1-26). The greater part of the family correspondence dates from the second and third decades of the nineteenth...
Dates: 1759-1927
Conditions Governing Access: Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (