by George J. Dance


John Richard Digby Best (1806-1885), Alcazar; or, The Dark Ages (1857). Forgotten Books, 2018. Courtesy

John Richard Digby Beste (26 April 1806 - 17 August 1885) was an English poet, memoirist, and novelist.[1]


Beste was baptized John Richard Best, the son of Henry Digby Beste (1768-1836) of Mavis Enderby, Lincolnshire. He was educated at Stonyhurst College.[1] He led a wandering life with his family, living in various parts of Europe and America, which formed the basis of his numerous novels and memoirs.[2]

He married a distant relative, Harriet Mary Rosamond Best (born c.1810), the daughter of Charles Best (1773-1818/9) of Bath, on 12 January 1830. The marriage produced 7 children: Henry Digby (born 1831), Lucy (27 April 1834), Frank Digby (August 1835), Kenelm Digby (1836), Agnes (8 April 1838), Constable Digby (early 1840) and Isabella (24 November 1841).[3]

He ran for Parliament as a Liberal in Southampton in 1844 and 1856.[4] In 1845, he became the first editor of Dolman’s Magazine and Monthly Miscellany of Criticism.[5]

In late 1850 he married Marian d’Oyley Meredith, at Marylebone church.[6]

He died in Florence, aged 80, and was buried in the family tomb in the Campo Santa at Naples.[7]




  • The Pope. A novel. (3 volumes), London: Saunders & Otley, 1840. Volume I, Volume II, Volume III
  • Isidora; or, The adventures of a Neapolitan: A novel. (3 volumes), London: Saunders & Otley, 1841.
  • Modern Society in Rome: a novel. (3 volumes), London: Hurst & Blackett, 1856.
  • Alcazar; or, the Dark Ages. A novel. (3 volumes), London: Hurst & Blackett, 1857. Volume I, Volume II, Volume III


  • Transalpine Memoirs; or, Anecdotes and observations shewing the actual state of Italy and the Italians (by "an English Catholic"). (2 volumes), Bath, UK: Richard Cruttwell, for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, & Green, 1826.
  • Transrhenane Memoirs. Bath, UK: Richard Cruttwell, for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, & Green, 1828.
  • The new poor law in practice. London: Ridgway / Southamption, UK: Joyce, 1837.
  • Odious comparisons, or, The cosmopolite in England. 1839.
  • The Wabash; or, Adventures of an English gentleman's family in the interior of America]. (2 volumes), London: Hurst & Blackett, 1855; Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1970. Volume I, Volume II
  • Nowadays; or Courts, courtiers, churchmen, Garibaldians, lawyers, and brigands, at home and abroad. (2 volumes), London: Chapman & Hall, 1870. Volume I, Volume II
  • A Traveller's Impression of Indiana in 1851. Fort Wayne, IN: Public Library of Fort Wayne & Allen County, 1954.


  • Pierre Gringore, Rondeaulx: Translated from the black letter French edition of 1527. London: Saunders & Otley, 1838.


  • Holy Readings: Giving the cream of many books in one, hopeful and good for all Catholics everywhere. London: R. Washbourne, 1868.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[8]

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 Frederick Boase, "John Richard Digby Beste, Modern English Biography, 4:387. English Poetry, 1579-1830, Web, Apr. 29, 2016.
  2. John Henry Digby Beste (1806-1885), At the Circulating Library: A database of Victorian fiction, 18 February 2016, Troy J. Bassett. Web, Apr. 29, 2016.
  3. Preston, 4-5.
  4. Preston, 1.
  5. Preston, 10.
  6. Preston, 15.
  7. Preston, 19.
  8. Search results = au:John Richard Digby Beste, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Apr. 29, 2016.

External linksEdit

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