English writer, historian and educational reformer. OSCAR BROWNING was born in London. In 1868 he became the lover of the great English Pre-Raphaelite painter Simeon Solomon. For fifteen years he was a master at Eton College, until he was dismissed in the Autumn of 1875 following a dispute over his “overly amorous” (but purportedly chaste) relationship with a pupil, George Curzon. After Eton he took up a life Fellowship at King’s College, Cambridge, where he achieved a reputation as a wit, and became universally known as “O.B.”.

He traveled to India at Curzon’s invitation after the latter had become viceroy. He resumed residence in 1876 at Cambridge, where he became university lecturer in history. He left Cambridge in 1908 and and in 1914 was visiting Italy when World War I broke out. He spent his later years in Rome where he died in 1923 at the age of eighty-six. A large part of his papers disappeared. These include “all Browning’s letters to his mother, diaries that covered the whole of his career from his arrival at Eton in 1851, much of his correspondence as an Eton master, and no doubt also a number of his subject files.”


This disappearance has been attributed to Hugo Wortham, Browning’s nephew and sole executor and legatee, who took the materials to produce a biography of his uncle, Victorian Eton and Cambridge: being the life and times of Oscar Browning.