Born: 21 October 1848
Died: 13 April 1904
Julian Russell Sturgis (21 October 1848 – 13 April 1904) was an American-born novelist, poet, librettist and lyricist. He played football as an amateur for the Wanderers F.C. winning the English FA Cup in 1873, and was thus the first American to play in a winning FA Cup Final team.
Sturgis was born in Boston, Massachusetts but moved to England when only seven months old when his father, Russell Sturgis, a successful Boston and Far East merchant (1805 – 1887), joined Baring Brothers in London. and his half brother was the art critic Russell Sturgis. He was a pupil at Eton College, where he played an active role in the mixed Wall and Field XIs in 1867, being Keeper of the Field in 1867, and editing the Eton College Journal.
On leaving Eton, he went up to Balliol College, Oxford where he rowed for three years for the College. After graduating, he became a barrister and acquired British nationality.
He joined the Wanderers in 1872, making his first appearance in a 2–0 defeat by the Royal Engineers on 30 November 1872. Wanderers automatically qualified for the 1873 FA Cup Final as the cup holders, having won the inaugural competition the previous year. Although having made only a handful of appearances for the Wanderers, Sturgis was selected for the final playing as one of five forwards. In the final, played at Lillie Bridge on March 29, 1873, the Wanderers defeated Oxford University 2–0, with goals from Arthur Kinnaird and Charles Wollaston. As all the other players in this or the previous Cup Final were either English or Scottish, Sturgis was thus the first American to appear in, let alone play on the winning side of, an F.A. Cup Final. This claim is often made with respect to John Harkes, who played on the losing side for Sheffield Wednesday in the 1993 FA Cup Final.
Sturgis appeared twice more for the Wanderers, with his final appearance being on 3 November 1875. Sturgis also played for the Old Etonians, and in a tight battle in the FA Cup Semi-final against Oxford University played at the Kennington Oval on 19 February 1876, he scored the only goal for the public school old boys to take them to their second consecutive final, ironically against the Wanderers. The final was also played at The Oval, and the first match on 11 March 1876 ended in a 1–1 draw. The Wanderers were victorious 3–0 in the replay played on 18 March, with two goals from Thomas Hughes and one by Charles Wollaston.
In 1885, Sturgis wrote the libretto for Arthur Goring Thomas's opera, "Nadeshda", which was first performed at the Drury Lane Theatre on 16 April 1885, and was considered to be Thomas's best opera.
Amongst his songs were "Sleep" (Beautiful up from the deeps of the solemn sea), "Through the ivory gate" (I had a dream last night), and "Whence", which were set to music by Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry.
His best-known collaboration was the opera Ivanhoe in 1891 with Arthur Sullivan, who was under pressure from the musical establishment to write a grand opera. The composer asked his usual collaborator, W.S. Gilbert, to supply the libretto, but the latter declined, saying that in grand opera the librettist's role is subordinate to that of the composer. Sullivan turned, instead, to Sturgis, who was recommended by Gilbert. Ivanhoe, based on Sir Walter Scott's novel, opened at Richard D'Oyly Carte's new Royal English Opera House on 31 January 1891. The libretto won praise as "a skilful and fairly dramatic adaptation of Scott's novel and a polished example of poetic lyric-writing". Although the opera was a success, running for an unprecedented 155 performances, it passed into virtual obscurity after the opera house failed. It was, as critic Hermann Klein observed, "the strangest comingling of success and failure ever chronicled in the history of British lyric enterprise!"
In 1901, he wrote the libretto for Charles Villiers Stanford's opera, "Much Ado About Nothing", which was mainly a re-ordering of passages from the play by William Shakespeare.
Sturgis died on 13 April 1904, aged 55. On the day of his death, Henry James wrote to his widow. (Brief Biography from WikiPedia.)
View the Wikipedia article on Julian Sturgis.
List of poetic works
- A girl to her class - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- A Moment of Farewell - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- A Stray Nymph Of Dian / I went ahunting with Queen Dian's maids; our sandals, bright with dew, swept through the grass - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Looking Backward / O my child love, my love of long ago - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Grapes / Come, boy Bacchus, a bunch of grapes - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- If I Might Ride on Puissant Wing - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Sleep / Beautiful up from the deeps of the solemn sea cometh sweet Sleep - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Through the Ivory Gate - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)
- Whence - (Charles Hubert Hastings Parry)