Editor: Dr Tim Harding
© Dr Tim Harding
14 March 2018
Further notices of Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography appeared during 2016. The longest and most detailed early review was by sports historian Dr. Adrian Harvey and can be found online at Kingpin.
More recently, Czech historian Dr. Vlastimil Fiala devoted many pages of his journal Quarterly for Chess History 18 to a chapter-by-chapter analysis of the book. He summed up by saying:
"This is a unique book on the life of one of the greatest English chess masters. Harding has tracked down hundreds of unknown Blackburne games... and without his efforts these games would have remained lost in old chess columns and magazines for another hundred years, or more... presents hitherto unknown information on his youth, family and personal life, which paints a colourful picture of this renowned British chess master... We can heartily recommend this book to all lovers of chess history and believes it belongs on the bookshelf of any serious chess collection."
Dr. Harvey considers Blackburne to have been "surely the geratest chess player ever" from Britain. He writes:
"A collection of Blackburne's games the scope and accuracy of which is unlikely to be surpassed... This is an excellent book, packed with game scores (often annotated) and engravings. The paper is of very high quality and the chess community should be grateful to both publisher and author for providing such a text. Blackburne was a great chess player and this vook is a fitting memorial to him."
A review by John Hartmann appeared on page 14 of the April 2016 number of the American magazine Chess Life.
"Most of Harding's work has gone into excavating the details of Blackburne's chess career. He has recovered unknown games, corrected errors in published games, and created thorough travelogues for his tours and travels. Many facts from his family life are documented... Harding's book feels definitive... Historians will find Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography to be an indispensable resource,but causal fans may want to start with the chapter on Blackburne in Harding's more approachable Eminent Victorian Chess Players."
GM Lubomir Kavalek in his online column for the Huffington Post (25 November 2015) said:
"After a wonderful anthology Eminent Victorian Chess Players: Ten Biographies, Tim Harding brought the most colorful player to life in Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography. The comprehensive nearly 600-page work is a beautiful tribute to a world-class player, considered among the best five in the world... It is Harding at his best."
Here are some quotes from Pritchett's article in the November 2015 number of Chess:
"Painstakingly researched... Anyone who wants to comment seriously on Blackburne's life and games will have to consult this book from now on... There's enough to keep an interested chess player going for ages in this huge, celebratory compilation, which is both impressively authoritative and readable..."
"I feel as if I've hardly scratched the surface of ... this vast book, which, among other things, builds a fascinating picture of chess in the Victorian and Edwardian worlds and how hard it was to make a living from chess in that era."
See also images from the reviews in The Spectator, The Times and Sunday Times.
Back to main Blackburne page.