Author, Educator. Born in Dudley, Worcestershire, England son of Dr. James Payton Badley and Laura Elizabeth Best his wife. He was the grandson of John Badley, F.R.C.S one of the original 300 fellows of the Royal College of Surgery. Early in life he saw the poverty and squalor of many working class in the Midlands. When fifteen he entered the Upper School at Rugby. These early experiences were very influential in shaping his ideas of what education should not be. While a student at Cambridge he gained the appreciation of a standard of music and theater and he described King's chapel as providing "a standard of loveliness of trained voices in that architectural setting of something near perfection." Here too his friendship with Edmund Garrett encouraged him to join the small minority of men who supported the women's movement for socio-political equality. In 1892 he married Garrett's sister Amy who would be a strong partner until her death in 1956. A school, he felt, should be organized like a family, with willing cooperation for common ends as the main motive rather than on the basis of mere competition. He felt that the training for social usefulness held equal importance with the fullest possible development of the individual. He claimed, in his own modesty, to owe much to Montessori, Pestalozzi, Frobebel and Dewey. Helen Parkhurst of the Dalton Plan would draw on his experience years later in New York City. He founded Bedales in January of 1893 in an old Elizabethan manor at Haywards Heath, then in 1898 he took further risk of engaging in a 'preposterous experiment' which led to Bedales becoming a fully coeducational boarding school. In May of 1899 this pioneering headmaster started building a new complex which still serves the school today at Steep, Petersfield, Hampshire. He created a marvelous example of the evolving school. His educational outline, which he knew would fill out and develop as the years passed, became a framework to which he would continue to contribute and set outer limits, but then allowed the school to evolve. While he would be called "Chief" for the rest of his life by students and staff alike, he did not dominate as most great headmasters have. At the age of seventy he retired to Cholesbury, near Tring, after being headmaster of his school for forty-two years. He wrote a number of books in his lifetime which include After the War (1917), Bedales: A Pioneer School (1923), Form and Spirit (1951), his autobiography, Memories and Reflections published in 1955, written ten years earlier and given to a friend and colleague for posthumous publication. After the friend died he consented to have it released. Yet it was his last work that can be looked at as his magnum opus. A Bible for Modern Readers (the New Testament) in 1961 and The Bible As Seen Today (the Old Testament) in 1965. They together comprise over 1000 pages. After his wife's death he returned to live his last years in the School grounds where he died. A favorite quotation was "Labor, Art, Worship, Love, these make men's lives."
Bio by: D C McJonathan-Swarm
James Payton Badley