William Delafield Arnold

William Delafield Arnold (7 April 1828 – 9 April 1859) was a British author and colonial administrator.

He was the fourth son of Thomas Arnold, the headmaster of Rugby School. His older brothers included the poet and critic Matthew Arnold and the literary scholar Tom Arnold. Not long after his father's death in 1842, William, a pupil at Rugby School, was involved in the writing of the official rules of rugby that are still in effect: "Rugby Rules were written on August 28, 1845 by three pupils, William Delafield Arnold, WW Shirley and Frederick Hutchins" (http://www.rugbyfootballhistory.com/laws.htm). Later, William served as an educational administrator in Punjab, in British India, where one of his most significant achievements was to enact a law separating church and state in public schools. As a result, Hindu pupils who attended these schools were no longer required to study the Koran or the Bible, in public schools. This policy would later influence public schools in England as well. While working in India, William wrote several articles for "Fraser's Magazine," mainly on "the India question" (see bibliography). In 1853, William published a novel of Anglo-Indian life, Oakfield; or, Fellowship in the East, which explores commonalities between spiritual traditions East and West, while also predicting the "mutiny" that would occur soon after. The character in Oakfield is dying of disease contracted in India, while its author was afflicted with the same disease. William died aged thirty-one, at Gibraltar, on his way home from India. Matthew Arnold's poem "A Southern Night" mourns his early death. William's orphaned children were adopted by his sister Jane Martha and her husband William Edward Forster.

His eldest son Edward Penrose Arnold-Forster (1851 – 19 January 1927) was a manufacturer in Yorkshire and deputy lieutenant for the West Riding. Another son, Hugh Oakeley Arnold-Forster, became a Cabinet minister in the Balfour government.


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