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Percy Barnett

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Percy Arthur Barnett (1858 – 26 October 1941) was a British educationalist and author, Superintendent of Education for the Colony of Natal, and Chief Inspector of Training of Teachers in England.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Barnett was born in Plymouth, the son of a Jewish research chemist,[2] but became an orphan in the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum, Norwood.[2][3] He became a student at the City of London School and at Trinity College, Oxford.[4] He won a scholarship to Oxford in 1877, and finished in 1881 with a first in literature humanities.[2]


Barnett was a professor of English at Firth College, Sheffield, a predecessor of the University of Sheffield, from 1882–1888.[4] He was named principal of the Borough Road teacher training college, a predecessor of the West London Institute of Higher Education, in 1888. In this post, he promoted athleticism, from his "Oxbridge belief in the value of games".[5] He became an inspector of schools in 1893.[2][4] Between 1902 and 1904 he was Superintendent of Education in the Colony of Natal and a member of the Civil Service Board of Natal and the Council of the University of Cape Colony.[6] He became Chief Inspector of Training on his return to England in 1905, and continued in that post until 1912.[4]


Barnett's books include:

  • Teaching and organisation, with special reference to secondary schools, a manual of practice (Longmans, Green, and co., 1897)[4]
  • The Little Book of Health and Courtesy (1905)[2]
  • Common sense in education and teaching; an introduction to practice (Longmans, Green, and co., 1899; 5th ed., 1906)[4]
  • Natal, the state and the citizen (Longmans, Green, and co., 1904)[2]
  • The story of Robinson Crusoe in Latin (with G. E. Goffeaux, Longmans, Green, and co., 1907)[7]
  • Common Sense Grammar (1923)[4]

Some of his writings have been collected in the book Life in a Bustle: Advice to Youth (with Sir Alfred Milner and C. G. Montefiore, 2017).

Personal life[edit]

Barnett is recorded as having converted to the Christian faith.[8] His wife, Annie Barnett (née Beeching; 1862–1941), was active in the suffrage movement; her father sold books and her brother was Henry Charles Beeching, a writer and the Dean of Norwich.[8] Annie Barnett's letters, written while the family was in Natal in 1902–04, reveal a lot of information about Barnett.[9] Their daughter was Charis Frankenburg (1892–1985).[2][8][10]

He died on 26 October 1941.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Death". The Times. 28 October 1941.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Rubinstein, William D.; Jolles, Michael; Rubinstein, Hilary L., eds. (2011). The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 54. ISBN 9781403939104. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. "Author biography for Life in a Bustle". BNC CataList. Retrieved 2021-01-08.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Aldrich, Richard; Gordon, Peter (2016). Dictionary of British Educationists. Routledge. p. 21. ISBN 9781317949329. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  5. "Early inspiration: athleticism and colleges". Soccer & Society. Informa {UK} Limited. 9 (5): 607–631. December 2008. doi:10.1080/14660970802181319.
  6. "Letters from Annie Barnett". Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts. University of Oxford. Retrieved 2021-01-08.
  7. Nelson, J. Raleigh (November 1907). "Review of The Story of Robinson Crusoe in Latin". The School Review. 15 (9): 699. JSTOR 1075740.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Anne Logan (8 August 2019). "Frankenburg [née Barnett], Charis Ursula". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
  9. https://archives.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/repositories/2/resources/835
  10. "Correspondence of Charis Frankenburg". Bodleian Archives & Manuscripts. University of Oxford. Retrieved 2021-01-08.

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