Hale White, William (writer) – library

Reference: HALE WHITE COLLECTIONDate: c. 1866-1956Extent: c. 40 volumes
book cover
A Library copy of the final novel by Mark Rutherford, Clara Hopgood.

William Hale White (1831-1913) was an English novelist who wrote under the pseudonym Mark Rutherford between 1881 and 1896. 

William Hale White was born in Bedford on the 22nd of December 1831. His father, William White, was a bookseller in Bedford at the time of Hale White’s birth, later becoming the Principal Doorkeeper for the House of Commons. 

As a young man, Hale White briefly attended New College in St John’s Wood, a Congregationalist college to study for the Independent ministry. However, he was expelled after around six months for questioning the scriptures and their authority. His disillusionment from this time cast a shadow over the rest of his life and writings, where his Nonconformist experiences shine through. 

He had several other short-lived occupations including working as a schoolmaster in Stoke Newington and as a publishing assistant for John Chapman on The Strand. In 1854 he became a clerk in the Registrar General’s Office in Somerset House in London. Four years later, he was transferred to the Admiralty, where he remained until his retirement in 1892. 

His novels, published under the name Mark Rutherford, began with The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford (1881). He often addressed religious problems in his writings, with his early novels describing his own progression away from Protestant Christianity towards something akin to Wordsworth’s pantheism.  

His other written works include a translation of Spinoza’s Ethics, published in 1883.  

He died on the 14th of March 1913 in Groombridge, Sussex.  

Often remembered as a minor Victorian novelist, he was celebrated in his day by writers including D. H. Lawrence, Arnold Bennett and André Gide.  

The collection includes several editions of the Mark Rutherford novels, other writings by William Hale White, and a collection of biographies by later scholars.  

The collection was purchased by the University of Reading in 1965. 


This collection is currently uncatalogued. A handlist is available; for more information, please contact specialcollections@reading.ac.uk 


Easdale, Gladys Ellen (writer) – a friend of William Hale White. The collection includes their correspondence between 1906-1909.