The Amateur Gentleman
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The Amateur Gentleman is an early novel by the popular author of Regency period swashbucklers, Jeffery Farnol, published in 1913. The novel was made into a silent film in 1920, another silent film in 1926 and a talking film in 1936 with Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. starring as the protagonist, Barnabas Barty. The format of the novel is essentially that of a bildungsroman. It tells the story of Barnabas Barty, the son of John Barty, the former boxing champion of England and landlord of a pub in Kent. At the start of the tale, Barnabas comes fortuitously into the possession of a vast fortune - £700,000, an astronomical amount by Regency standards - and determines to use this fortune to become a gentleman. His father objects to this plan and they quarrel. They settle their differences in a round of fisticuffs, which Barnabas wins, beating his father fair and square. Barnabas sets off for London to further his ambitions and, on the way there, contrives to make a number of influential friends and enemies. Farnol exploits the naïvety of the youth for comic effect. For instance, Barnabas is gulled by the chapman who sells him a book on etiquette at an outrageous mark-up. At the other end of the spectrum, Farnol is equally disdainful of Barnabas' sophisticated concealment of his identity.
Jeffery Farnol (10 February 1878 – 9 August 1952) was a British writer from 1907 until his death, known for writing more than 40 romance novels, some formulaic and set in the Georgian Era or English Regency period, and swashbucklers. He, with Georgette Heyer, founded the Regency romantic genre.
John Jeffery Farnol was born in Aston, Birmingham, England, UK, the son of Kate Jeffery and Henry John Farnol, a factory-employed brass-founder. He had two brothers and a sister. He was brought up in London and Kent. He attended the Westminster School of Art after losing his job in a Birmingham metal-working firm.
In 1900, he married Blanche Wilhelmina Victoria Hawley (1883–1955), the 16-year-old daughter of the noted New York scenic artist H. Hughson Hawley; they moved to the United States, where he found work as a scene painter. They had a daughter, Gillian Hawley. He returned to England around 1910, and settled in Eastbourne, Sussex. In 1938, he divorced, and married Phyllis Mary Clarke on 20 May, and adopted her daughter, Charmian Jane. His nephew was Ewart Oakeshott, the British illustrator, collector and amateur historian, who wrote on medieval arms and armour.
He published his first romance novel My Lady Caprice in 1907. The success of his early novels led Farnol to become a professional writer. He produced around 40 novels and volumes of stories, and some non-fiction and children's books. His last book was completed by his second wife Phyllis.
Two of his early books, The Amateur Gentleman and The Broad Highway, have been issued in a version edited by romance novelist Barbara Cartland. The Amateur Gentleman was adapted for British film in 1920 and 1936, American film in 1926.