George Frankland, Deaf Journalist (1866-1936) “brilliant scholar, deep thinker and one of the finest writers of prose”
By H Dominic W Stiles, on 10 June 2016
George Frankland was born to middle class parents in Liverpool on the 9th of September, 1866 (British Deaf Mute p.290, from which much of this is taken). The article goes on,
It is not quite clear whether George’s deafness was congenital ; his mother considers it due to falls and shocks to head in infancy. This, by the way, accounts for his poetic tendencies. The deafness, however, was only partial. Consequently, George was treated in most respects as a hearing child – to his sorrow often enough. He was sent to the ordinary hearing schools, but owing to his infirmity, and the conventional methods of education, learned comparatively little. (ibid)
However he did learn to read at an early age, which led him to writing.
Life became more difficult when his father died in 1881. George worked for a time for his older brother, as an office boy, but found the work too little to kindle any interest. He went to Liverpool School of Art, but “did not distinguish himself”, although he there came into contact with another deaf person for the first time, Mr. J.R. Brown, one of the masters. John Rowland Brown (1850-1923) had trained under T.M. Lindsay c 1864-67, and later moved to Liverpool where he was an assistant master at the college for 30 years. “Returned to Ght [Graham’s Town] on retirement c. 1902 where he held a one-man exhibition in 1916.” (p.129, Pictorial Africana by A Gordon-Brown, via Google Books)
In 1884 George came in contact with James Wilson Mackenzie (1865-95), a gifted young deaf artist, some of whose paintings are still to be seen in the Wirral. He and his brother introduced George to the Liverpool Deaf community.
With money short and his father’s estate tied up in the court of Chancery for may years, and failing to make his way in the world of art, George pursued a literature, learning shorthand, playing the piano to some degree, was supposedly “a genius at the organ” (Fry, 1936), and becoming enthusiastic about chess. He stayed with his brother, trying to follow his trade as a shoemaker, but again felt he was wasting his time with too little he could do. When his sister moved to London to study the piano, George studied typewriting “at Miss Day’s, and, through Mr. J.R.K. Toms, whom he met there, came into contact with the London deaf.” (British Deaf Mute, p.291)
He bought a typewriter but did not have the speed for office work. Poor George seems to have really struggled to find his niche, but he continued to write, and had a safety net of a small income from his father’s property when the estate was settled. In London he attended St. Saviour’s church, and helped organise the Cricket Club. Gilby says that in 1894, “It was during this year that our first real Cricket Club secured a ground at Neasden, and George Frankland became its first Secretary. It ran for several years at Bishop’s Avenue, Finchley. Many happy afternoons did we spend there while the ladies with my assistance got tea ready and made huge out of it which went towards the rent of the pitch.” (Memoir, p.132-3)
He became a full time reporter for British Deaf Mute and The Church Messenger/Ephphatha from 1893. In his obituary, M.S. Fry recounts that Frankland was much the quietest of the small group of journalists who worked for Joseph Hepworth on the British Deaf Monthly and The British Deaf Times. “A brilliant scholar, deep thinker and one of the finest writers of prose, and a most lovable man” (Fry, 1936).
Fry, Maxwell S., Obituary: the late Mr George Frankland, British Deaf Times, 1936 vol.33 p.104
Picture, British Deaf Monthly 1896 vol 6, p.36
Please note, I have followed the original article in the B.D.M. fairly closely. Please chip in with any additional information.