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Okey, Thomas (1852–1935), basket-maker and Italian scholar  

Jonathan Usher

Okey, Thomas (1852–1935), basket-maker and Italian scholar, was born on 30 September 1852 at 16 Quaker Street, Spitalfields, London, one of eight children of Thomas Okey, a basket-maker, and his wife, Maria, née Biggs. After elementary school in Bethnal Green, he too was apprenticed at thirteen as a basket-maker, a trade he followed for over thirty years. A passionate reader, he was largely self-taught, studying French, German, and Italian over breakfast before going to work at 6 a.m., and attending evening classes afterwards. He later attended classes at ...