The Early Life of Darrell Figgis

Darell Edmund Figgis was born on 17th September 1882 in Rathmines, Dublin to Arthur William Figgis and his wife Mary. The family lived between Ireland and India where his father was a tea broker with the East India Company, in Calcutta, West Bengal.

West Bengal, where Darrell Figgis spent his childhood

West Bengal, where Darrell Figgis spent his childhood

When Figgis was about ten he was sent to England to be educated. He attended the Company of Grocers School in Hackney, where the merchant class sent their children. The school had the reputation of being one of the best second level educational institution in London at the time. The headmaster at the time Darrell Figgis was a pupil, maintained strict discipline, but had modern ideas on teaching. These early influences may have laid down a firm foundation for his writing career.

The first Head Master, Herbert Courthope Bowen (1847–1899) was committed to  innovative ideas about English teaching, pupils’ learning and children’s development that are usually associated with progressive teaching in elementary schools.

He did not begin his literary career straight after finishing his education.  He joined his father in tea industry, but that was not long lived. Figgis would recount to his fellow inmates, years later during his interment in Durham Jail, to hi that he had a talent for tea tasting. As Kevin O’Shiel disclosed in his Witness Statement:

He [Figgis] was the acknowledged king of all tea-tasters, being gifted with a palate of such exquisite refinement and unerring accuracy that his judgements on the tea samples submitted to the the tasters became celebrated…

His job as a tea broker in his father’s company came to an abrupt end when he fell out with him;

“He was a very obstinate disposition,self-willed, and reluctant to fall in with is father’s ideas as regards the carrying on of their business with a result that he parted form his father and returned to London, working his passage home…”

On his return his stayed with his uncle, who helped to nurture his writing.


India Births and Baptisms, 1786-1947,” database, FamilySearch
Public Record Office. CO 904/201/Part 134-153