Leeds University Library

Sebastian Evans 1830-1909

Sebastian Evans was born in 1830 at Market Bosworth in Leicestershire, where his father taught at the local grammar school. Sebastian was educated there and then studied at Emmanuel College Cambridge, where he graduated with a B.A. in 1853. In January 1855, he became a student at Lincoln’s Inn, but then was appointed as Secretary of the Indian Reform Association. In 1857, he resigned this position to become manager of the art department of the glassworks of Messrs Chance Bros. & Co. at Oldbury, near Birmingham, where he was responsible for designing several major windows, including one illustrating the legend of Robin Hood for the International Exhibition of 1862. In 1858, he married Elizabeth Goldney and they had two sons.

He became increasingly interested in politics and had connections with many notable Conservative politicians. In 1867 he became editor of the Birmingham Daily Gazette, which had Conservative leanings. He stood (unsuccessfully) as the Conservative candidate for Birmingham in 1868 and helped found the National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations. He took the degree of LLD at Cambridge and in 1870 left the newspaper to pursue a legal career, though he continued to be active in both politics and journalism.

Evans had considerable talent both as a poet and as an artist. As well as composing original poetry, he also published translations from French, Greek, Latin and Italian. Like the pre-Raphaelites, he had a particular love of the medieval period and in published a study of the legend of the Holy Grail. He was acquainted with many notable literary and artistic figures, including Dickens, Thackeray, Newman, Ruskin and Burne-Jones. This last was a particular friend and illustrated Evans’ translation of a medieval French romance, The High History of the Holy Graal.

He retired to Abbot’s Barton, Canterbury and died there in 1909.