Charles Isaac Elton

"Court Roll". Caricature by Spy published in Vanity Fair in 1887.

Charles Isaac Elton, QC (6 December 1839 – 23 April 1900) was an English lawyer, antiquary, and politician.

He is most famous for being the author of the bestselling book The Great Book-Collectors.

He was born in Southampton. Educated at Cheltenham and Balliol College, Oxford, he was elected a fellow of Queen's College in 1862. He was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1865. His remarkable knowledge of old real property law and custom helped him to an extensive conveyancing practice and he took silk in 1885. He sat in the House of Commons for West Somerset in 1884–1885 and for Wellington, Somerset from 1886 to 1892. In 1869 he succeeded to his uncle's property of Whitestaunton Manor, near Chard, Somerset.

During the later years of his life he retired to a great extent from legal practice, and devoted much of his time to literary work. He died at Whitestaunton. Elton's principal works were

Virginia Woolf often quotes his poem "Luriana Lurilee" in her novel To the Lighthouse (1927),[1] although the poem itself was not published until 1945.


  1. "Charles Elton's 'A Garden Song'", Notes and Queries (2007) 54(2) pp. 171–173; doi:10.1093/notesj/gjm084

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Charles Isaac Elton
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Mordaunt Fenwick Bisset and
Edward Stanley
Member of Parliament for West Somerset
With: Edward Stanley
Constituency abolished
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Dyke Acland
Member of Parliament for Wellington, Somerset
Succeeded by
Sir Alexander Fuller-Acland-Hood
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