Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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John Fredrick Thomas Jane

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John Fredrick Thomas Jane. Naval expert and founder of Jane's Fighting Ships

John Fredrick Thomas Jane (1865-1916) was the founding editor of reference books on warships (All the World's Fighting Ships) and aircraft (All the World's Airships). He also once kidnapped Victor Grayson MP in a political stunt.

1865 August 6th. Born in Richmond, Surrey, England, but worked most of his life in Portsmouth. His father was a vicar and he attended Exeter School. He first began to sketch warships in his teens, and was notable in the 1890s for illustrating scientific romances by George Griffith and other authors, as well as for his own novels such as To Venus in Five Seconds (1897) and The Violet Flame (1899).

An avid miniatures war-gamer, Jane first published All the World's Fighting Ships (also known as Jane's Fighting Ships) in 1898, which identified the warships operated by each country, their armaments, and other details, as a supplement to a game he designed. The book, now an annual series, is a standard reference work.

In 1909, he created All the World's Aircraft. Jane later founded what is now Jane's Information Group.

Jane was also involved in politics, standing as an Independent candidate for Portsmouth in the 1906 general election. He was strongly opposed to the Liberal Party (especially its left wing) and when a left-wing Liberal candidate Edward Hemmerde was nominated in 1910, he arranged a stunt to disrupt their election campaign. At another public meeting, Jane arranged for a sailor to ask Hemmerde to insist on the supply of hammock ladders should he be elected: Hemmerde fell for this and gave the pledge. His Portsmouth home, on Southsea Common, now bears a plaque recording that he lived there.

In later life Jane lived at Bedhampton and was instrumental in setting up one of the very first Scout troops

1916 March 8th. Died

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