Paxton Mallaby DentBorn 10th October 1890 - Killed in Action 28th April 1915
Paxton was the son of Joseph Malaby and Alexandra Campbell Dent, he was one of a large family, both he and his younger brother Austin Campbell DENT attending Bancrofts School in the first decade of the twentieth century. The family had lived at Salway Lodge, Salway Hill, Woodford Green where his father Joseph Malaby Dent was a highly successful publisher.
J M Dent and Company had been founded in 1888 two years before Paxton’s birth and had gone from strength to strength.
His father expanded the company with establishment of the ‘Temple Press’ and ‘Everyman Library’ series of publications. By these means numerous works of classical literature were produced in a relatively cheap and readily accessible format for the edification of the increasingly literate population benefiting from the education reforms of the 19th and early 20th Century. His father’s laudable passion was for bringing books to the people. He remembered when he had longed to buy books he couldn't afford. In an age when the population boom of the nineteenth century had seen increasing affluence and grinding desperate poverty become close bedfellows Joseph Dent was convinced that the improvement of people depended on education and edification. This meant making classic books made readily available and cheap. It was philanthropy and profit combined.
Although not a new idea, what set Everymans apart from earlier series was its scope; Dent planned for no less than one thousand volumes. He was able to build a new factory and offices in Covent Garden with the profits. Despite having an impressive range of literature, Dent prevented classics of dubious morals, such as Moll Flanders, from being printed. The one thousand volume mark was reached in 1956 with the firm at that time still under the management of the Dent family.
Brought up in such an atmosphere of classic literature Paxton following attendance at Bancrofts School and then Mill Hill School went up to Worcester College, Oxford. He was destined to take a leading role in the family’s burgeoning publishing business which was at the time making serious inroads into an American market.
The outbreak of war saw Paxton enlist in the kilted Seaforth Highlanders as a private soldier and as early as 7th November 1914 he had arrived in France on the western front.
Here he was to endure the privations and imminent dangers of a bitter winter in the trenches.
In April 1915 the Seaforth Highlanders had been moved from Bailleul in France to a position near Wieltje, northeast of Ypres in Belgium. The dispositions made were in preparation for the Second battle of Ypres. From the 25th of April the Highlanders were heavily engaged in the battle.
Paxton had been deployed as part of the regiment’s machine gun section. Here immediately after using his rifle to discharge five rounds of rapid fire towards the enemy trenches he fell shot through the head.
The battle was to continue ferociously from April into May 1915 and by its end would claim more than 100,000 casualties amongst its combatants. Paxton’s body was buried in the CABARETROUGE BRITISH CEMETERY, SOUCHEZ.
Sadly we will meet his brother Austin Campbell DENT later in this narrative.
Years later Joseph Malaby Dent would profess the belief that cheap books might prevent wars. He had just cause for hoping that may be so.