Ernest Rhys

Date of birth: 
17 Jun 1859
City of birth: 
Islington, London
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
25 May 1946
Location of death: 

48 West Heath Drive, Hampstead


Ernest Rhys was a writer and literary editor. He founded and edited the Everyman's Library for J. M. Dent & Sons. He was also a poet and one of the founding members of the 'Rhymers' Club' in London in 1890.

In 1912 or 1913, he went to see a play written by Rabindranath Tagore at the Little Theatre at the Albert Hall, having been given the ticket by a young Bengali student in London. It was there in the audience that he first saw Tagore. Tagore then became a regular visitor to Rhys' home in Hampstead and became friends with Ernest and his wife, Grace. In 1913, Rhys helped Tagore revise Sadhana for publication and in 1936 he anonymously edited Tagore's Collected Poems and Plays. Rhys wrote a biography of Tagore for Macmillan in 1915.

Published works: 

Everyman Remembers (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1931)

Rabindranath Tagore: A Biographical Study (London: Macmillan, 1915)

Wales England Wed (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1940)

Secondary works: 

Dutta, Krishna and Andrew Robinson (eds), Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Waugh, Alec, ‘Rhys, Ernest Percival (1859–1946)’, rev. Katharine Chubbuck, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2007) []


Rhys, Ernest, Everyman Remembers (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1931), p. 273


Rhys describes Tagore's first visit to his house at 48 West Heath Drive, North London, in 1912 or 1913.


Rabindranath Tagore's first coming to '48' was another event. I had been to an Indian play in a small theatre, invited there by a young poet who afterward introduced me to Tagore and promised to bring him to see us one day. But when he arrived, he looked so like an old Hebrew prophet, with so august a presence, that we were overawed, and wondered what we should say to so formidable a personage. However, he proved to be the simplest and most natural of guests, and the easiest to entertain. He did not require to be fed on mangoes and tamarinds, loved a good story, enjoyed a good laugh, and had a graceful way of making light of his own poetry.


This extract gives insight into how Tagore dispelled preconceived notions that Indians eat mangoes and tamarinds and are difficult to relate to. It portrays the beginning of a close friendship between a British man and an Indian man.

Archive source: 

Correspondence with Tagore, Visva-Bharati Archives, Santiniketan