The Prance Family

CLAUDE A PRANCE 1906 - 2002

        Claude Prance is best known for his books of essays. Most of the work published in these books is based on his own collection of English literature of the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, but including collections on the British theatre, natural history and cricket. His interest in English literature was kindled by an American schoolmaster at St.John's College but most of his free time from his early life with the Midalnd Bank was devoted to professional examinations. When these were over he was free to use his leisure for one of his main interests and began to send essays and articles on English literature, mainly of the early nineteenth century, to a variety of journals. He acquired a fine collection of rejection slips! Gradually some of his essays began to appear in magazines in England, the U.S.A., and later in Malta and Australia. Eventually he collected some of these and his first book of essays, Peppercorn Papers, appeared in 1965,when he was still working for the Bank. Later volumes were The Laughing Philosopher, 1976, Index to the London Magazine (with Dr.Frank Riga), 1978 Companion to Charles Lamb, 1983, E.V.Lucas and his Books, 1988, Essays of a book Collector, 1989, and The Characters in the Novels of Thomas Love Peacock, 1992.

        He has been a member of the Charles Lamb Society since 1936 and a vice-President since 1983, is a keen collector of books and his library exceeds 8,000 volumes. He is also a member of the Private Libraries Association, The Bookplate Society, The Society for Theatrical Research, The Selbourne Society, The Keats-Shelley Association of America, and the Book Collectors' Society of Australia.

        Claude Prance was born in Portsmouth, England in 1906 and was educated at the Philological School and St.John's College, both in Southsea. At seventeen he entered the Midland Bank for which he worked for the major part of his life reaching managerial level.. In 1941 he was commissioned in the Royal Air Force and in 1942 served overseas for three years and saw service in North Africa and the Middle East. After the war he resumed his career with the Midland Bank and held a position in the Bank's Intelligence Department at its head office in Poultry, London. Later most of his work was with Public Relations also at head office. On retirement at the age of sixty he and his wife Patricia nee Searle whom he married in 1932 went to live on the Maltese island of Gozo. Patricia is the great grand-daughter of John Linnell, the well-known 19th century painter and friend of William Blake. They became friends with a number of writers living on Gozo where they stayed for fourteen years before extensive travels to Russia, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and finally Australia where the family finally settled near Canberra. Claude and Patricia celebrated their diamond wedding in 1992. His two children are Romaine Linnell (nee Prance) born 16.5.35 and Jon Prance born 18.1.39.

Claude Prance springs from the North Devon branch of the family and is a descendant of John Prance of Peppercombe 1789-1871.

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