Charles Lane, 1800 - 1870
Charles Lane was a prominent English reformer and friend of Amos Bronson Alcott
. In the 1830s he worked as a journalist and edited and managed the London Mercantile Price Current
. During this period Lane met James Pierrepont Greaves
and eagerly joined his group of ardent educational and spiritual reformers. Greaves, believing in the possibility of perfecting humanity through communal education, opened Alcott House in 1838 at Ham Common in Surrey. By 1841 Lane had settled there and, with Henry Gardner Wright
, edited a tract called "The Healthian," which promoted spiritual renewal through proper diet. Alcott met Lane in England in 1842 and at once was so impressed with Lane that he pronounced him "the deepest, sharpest intellect" he had ever met. Lane and Alcott went on to found their utopian community, Fruitlands
, at Harvard, Massachusetts in 1843.
Unfortunately, Lane's presence at Fruitlands caused much tension and grief. Despotic and difficult, Lane held up an ideal of strictness and celibacy that emotionally tore the community apart. After the failure of Fruitlands, he joined a nearby Shaker group and then returned to Harvard, where he and Joseph Palmer
formed the Leominster and Harvard Benevolent Association. Lane later married and returned to journalism.