Young Sam Butler and the Origins of Modern Running: His Athletic and Illicit Exploits as a Fox and a Hound

World-renowned running author and literary scholar Professor Roger Robinson has discovered that before writing 'The Way of All Flesh' and 'Erewhon' Samuel Butler was a talented runner, who more than 150 years ago took part in some of the earliest recorded runs and races since ancient Greece. Young Sam Butler was the captain of the world's first harrier club. He was race director of the world's first organised cross-country race. He was meeting manager of the world's first modern track and field meeting. He drew the modern world's earliest picture of competitive runners. (Wikipedia and all the history books are wrong!) Join Roger as he pursues Samuel Butler through a fascinating paperchase of unpublished documents and roguish running, to a finish line of revisionist biography and a new history of running and track athletics.

Roger Robinson is a literary scholar, sports journalist, and former international runner. Professor Emeritus of English at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, he is currently senior writer for Running Times magazine, USA. His books include 'Running in Literature', 'Heroes and Sparrows', '26.2 Marathon Stories' (with Kathrine Switzer), 'Robert Louis Stevenson: His Best Pacific Writings', the 'Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature', and editions of H.G. Wells's 'The Food of the Gods' and Samuel Butler's 'The Way of All Flesh'. He has written frequently on Butler.

The talk was given at the third Butler Day, celebrating the end of the Samuel Butler Project, on Saturday 11th May 2013.

Transcript of Roger Robinson's talk