Charles John Plumptre


From Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Richard Garnett, 'Plumptre, Charles John (1818-1887)', rev. John D. Haigh, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [, accessed 29 June 2005]

Charles PlumptrePlumptre, Charles John (1818-1887), barrister and writer on elocution, was born on 28 March 1818, the eldest son of Edward Hallows Plumptre (1785-1851), a London solicitor. He was the brother of Edward Hayes Plumptre (1821-1891), dean of Wells. After receiving an education at private schools and King's College, London, Plumptre was entered at Gray's Inn in May 1838, and was called to the bar on 5 June 1844. Shortly before this, on 14 March 1844, he had married Caroline Colmer (b. 1819/20), the younger daughter and coheir of her father, Robert Colmer. In conjunction with George Harris, Plumptre edited the ninth and eleventh volumes of The County Courts' Chronicle (1860-61), and, in conjunction with Mr Serjeant Edward William Cox, between 1850 and 1860 he established the Public Reading Society, providing the first penny readings for the public.

Plumptre's fine presence and his expressive, sweet, and powerful voice led him to devote himself to the study and practice of elocution. He gradually withdrew from practice at the bar and concentrated on lecturing on his favourite art, especially at the universities and at the various theological colleges, where his teaching was highly valued. He held official appointments as lecturer on elocution both at Oxford and at King's College. In 1861 he published a course of lectures delivered at Oxford in 1860; these subsequently formed the basis of a large work, The Principles and Practice of Elocution (1861), which was dedicated to the prince of Wales, and went through five editions. After the death of his first wife he married Adelaide, née Denton, the widow of Robert Becher, on 24 January 1866; she was to predecease him. He went on to publish The Culture of Voice and Speech (1874) and The Right Mode of Respiration (1886). He died on 15 June 1887 at his home, 36 Hamilton Terrace, St John's Wood, London, survived by two sons, also lawyers.

Writings by Charles John Plumptre

Plumptre, Charles John (1861). The principles and practice of elocution, considered in reference to the various professions: Being the substance of a course of introductory lectures delivered at Oxford.during Michaelmas term, 1860. London: J.H and J. Parker.

Plumptre, Charles John (1873). The religion and morality of Shakespeare's works; being a lecture delivered before the Sunday Lecture Society, the 16th of November, 1873.

Plumptre, Charles John (1874) The culture of voice and speech: An introductory lecture on elocution.

Plumptre, Charles John (1881). King's College Lectures on elocution; or, the physiology and culture of voice and speech, and the expression of the emotions by language, countenance, and gesture. To which is added a special lecture on the causes and cure of impediments of speech. Being the substance of the Introductory Course of Lectures annually delivered by Charles John Plumptre. London: Trübner & Co., Ludgate Hill. (published with slight revisions in the years: 1861, 1869, 1870, 1876, 1881, 1883)

Plumptre, Charles John (1883). Takes exceptions to the views of Mr. Warren Davenport and Mr. John Howard. Letter to the editor. The Voice, 3, March, 43.

Plumptre, Charles John (1886) The right mode of respiration in regard to speech, song, and health. London: Trübner & Co. (The sixth lecture from King's College Lectures)

Frontpiece of Lectures on Eleocution

Frontpiece of Plumptre's "Lectures On Elocution"