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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Lamb’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas de Quincey
15 August 1785 – 8 December 1859

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Thomas de Quincey

De Quincey was born at 86 Cross Street, Manchester, England. His father was a successful merchant with an interest in literature who died when he was quite young. Soon after his birth the family went to The Farm and then later to Greenheys, a larger country house in Chorlton-on-Medlock near Manchester. In 1796, three years after the death of his father, Thomas Quincey, his mother – the erstwhile Elizabeth Penson – took the name “De Quincey.” In the same year, De Quincey’s mother moved to Bath and enrolled him at King Edward’s School, Bath.

De Quincey was a weak and sickly child. His youth was spent in solitude, and when his elder brother, William, came home, he wreaked havoc in the quiet surroundings. De Quincey’s mother (who counted Hannah More amongst her friends) was a woman of strong character and intelligence, but seems to have inspired more awe than affection in her children. She brought them up very strictly, taking De Quincey out of school after three years because she was afraid he would become big-headed, and sending him to an inferior school at Wingfield in Wiltshire. It is purported that at this time, in 1799, De Quincey first read Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge.

In 1800, De Quincey, aged fifteen, was ready for the University of Oxford; his scholarship was far in advance of his years. “That boy,” his master at Bath had said, “could harangue an Athenian mob better than you or I could address an English one.” He was sent to Manchester Grammar School, in order that after three years’ stay he might obtain a scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, but he took flight after nineteen months.

His first plan had been to reach William Wordsworth, whose Lyrical Ballads (1798) had consoled him in fits of depression and had awakened in him a deep reverence for the poet. But for that De Quincey was too timid, so he made his way to Chester, where his mother dwelt, in the hope of seeing a sister; he was caught by the older members of the family, but, through the efforts of his uncle, Colonel Penson, received the promise of a guinea a week to carry out his later project of a solitary tramp through Wales. From July to November 1802, De Quincey lived as a wayfarer. He soon lost his guinea by ceasing to keep his family informed of his whereabouts, and had difficulty making ends meet. Still apparently fearing pursuit, he borrowed some money and travelled to London, where he tried to borrow more. Having failed, he lived close to starvation rather than return to his family.

This deprived period left a profound mark upon De Quincey’s psychology, and upon the writing he would later do; it forms a major and crucial part of the first section of the Confessions, and re-appears in various forms throughout the vast body of his lifetime literary work.

Discovered by chance by his friends, De Quincey was brought home and finally allowed to go to Worcester College, Oxford, on a reduced income. Here, we are told, “he came to be looked upon as a strange being who associated with no one.” In 1804, while at Oxford, he began the occasional use of opium. He completed his studies, but failed to take the oral examination leading to a degree; he left the university without graduating. He became an acquaintance of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, having already sought out Charles Lamb in London. His acquaintance with Wordsworth led to his settling in 1809 at Grasmere, in the Lake District. His home for ten years was Dove Cottage, which Wordsworth had occupied and which is now a popular tourist attraction. De Quincey was married in 1816, and soon after, having no money left, he took up literary work in earnest.

His wife Margaret bore him eight children before her death in 1837. Three of De Quincey’s daughters survived him. One of his sons, Paul Frederick de Quincey (1828–1894), emigrated to New Zealand.

In July 1818 De Quincey became editor of The Westmorland Gazette, a Tory newspaper published in Kendal, after its first editor had been dismissed. He was unreliable at meeting deadlines, and in June 1819 the proprietors complained about “their dissatisfaction with the lack of ‘regular communication between the Editor and the Printer'”, and he resigned in November 1819. De Quincey’s political sympathies tended towards the right. He was “a champion of aristocratic privilege,” reserved “Jacobin” as his highest term of opprobrium, held reactionary views on the Peterloo Massacre and the Sepoy rebellion, on Catholic Emancipation and the enfranchisement of the common people, and yet was also a staunch abolitionist on the issue of slavery.

In 1821 he went to London to dispose of some translations from German authors, but was persuaded first to write and publish an account of his opium experiences, which that year appeared in the London Magazine. This new sensation eclipsed Lamb’s Essays of Elia, which were then appearing in the same periodical. The Confessions of an English Opium-Eater were soon published in book form. De Quincey then made literary acquaintances. Thomas Hood found the shrinking author “at home in a German ocean of literature, in a storm, flooding all the floor, the tables, and the chairs – billows of books …” De Quincey was famous for his conversation; Richard Woodhouse wrote of the “depth and reality, as I may so call it, of his knowledge … His conversation appeared like the elaboration of a mine of results …”

From this time on De Quincey maintained himself by contributing to various magazines. He soon exchanged London and the Lakes for Edinburgh, the nearby village of Polton, and Glasgow; he spent the remainder of his life in Scotland. Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine and its rival Tait’s Magazine received a large number of contributions. Suspiria de Profundis (1845) appeared in Blackwood’s, as did The English Mail-Coach (1849). Joan of Arc (1847) was published in Tait’s. Between 1835 and 1849, Tait’s published a series of De Quincey’s reminiscences of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Robert Southey, and other figures among the Lake Poets – a series that taken together constitutes one of his most important works.

Along with his opium addiction, debt was one of the primary constraints of De Quincey’s adult life. He pursued journalism as the one way available to him to pay his bills; and without financial need it is an open question how much writing he would ever have done.

De Quincey came into his patrimony at the age of 21, when he received £2000 from his late father’s estate. He was unwisely generous with his funds, making loans that could not or would not be repaid, including a £300 loan to Coleridge in 1807. After leaving Oxford without a degree, he made an attempt to study law, but desultorily and unsuccessfully; he had no steady income and spent large sums on books (he was a lifelong collector). By the 1820s he was constantly in financial difficulties. More than once in his later years, De Quincey was forced to seek protection from arrest in the debtors’ sanctuary of Holyrood in Edinburgh. (At the time, Holyrood Park formed a debtors’ sanctuary; people could not be arrested for debt within those bounds. The debtors who took sanctuary there could only emerge on Sundays, when arrests for debt were not allowed.) Yet De Quincey’s money problems persisted; he got into further difficulties for debts he incurred within the sanctuary.

His financial situation improved only later in his life. His mother’s death in 1846 brought him an income of £200 per year. When his daughters matured, they managed his budget more responsibly than he ever had himself.

A number of medical practitioners have speculated on the physical ailments that inspired and underlay De Quincey’s resort to opium, and searched the corpus of his autobiographical works for evidence. One possibility is “a mild … case of infantile paralysis” that he may have contracted from Wordsworth’s children. De Quincey certainly had intestinal problems, and problems with his vision – which could have been related: “uncorrected myopic astigmatism … manifests itself as digestive problems in men.” De Quincey also suffered neuralgic facial pain, “trigeminal neuralgia”  – “attacks of piercing pain in the face, of such severity that they sometimes drive the victim to suicide.”

As with many addicts, De Quincey’s opium addiction may have had a “self-medication” aspect for real physical illnesses, as well as a psychological aspect.

By his own testimony, De Quincey first used opium in 1804 to relieve his neuralgia; he used it for pleasure, but no more than weekly, through 1812. It was in 1813 that he first commenced daily usage, in response to illness and his grief over the death of Wordsworth’s young daughter Catherine. In the periods of 1813–16 and 1817–19 his daily dose was very high, and resulted in the sufferings recounted in the final sections of his Confessions. For the rest of his life his opium use fluctuated between extremes; he took “enormous doses” in 1843, but late in 1848 he went for 61 days with none at all. There are many theories surrounding the effects of opium on literary creation, and notably, his periods of low usage were literarily unproductive.

He died in Edinburgh and is buried in St Cuthbert’s Churchyard at the west end of Princes street. His stone, in the southwest section of the churchyard on a west facing wall, is plain and says nothing of his work.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Harrison Ainsworth
4 February 1805 – 3 January 1882

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William Harrison Ainsworth

Ainsworth was born on 4 February 1805 to Thomas Ainsworth, a prominent Manchester lawyer, and Ann (Harrison) Ainsworth, the daughter of the Unitarian minister at Manchester Cross Street Chapel, the Rev. Ralph Harrison, in the family house at 21 King Street, Manchester. On 4 October 1806, Ainsworth’s brother, Thomas Gilbert Ainsworth, was born. Although the family home was eventually destroyed, it was a three-storey Georgian home in a well to do community. The area influenced Ainsworth with its historical and romantic atmosphere, which existed until the community was later replaced by commercial buildings. Besides the community, Ainsworth read romantic works as a child and enjoyed stories dealing with either adventure or supernatural themes. Of these, Dick Turpin was a favourite of Ainsworth. During his childhood, he adopted Jacobean ideas and held Tory ideas in addition to his Jacobite sympathies, even though his community was strict Whig and Nonconformist. During this time, Ainsworth began to write prolifically.

The Ainsworth family moved to Smedly Lane, north of Manchester in Cheetham Hill, during 1811. They kept the old residence in addition to the new, but resided in the new home most of the time. The surrounding hilly country was covered in woods, which allowed Ainsworth and his brother to act out various stories. When not playing, Ainsworth was tutored by his uncle, William Harrison. In March 1817, he was enrolled at the Manchester Grammar School, which was described in his novel Mervyn Clitheroe. The work emphasised that his classical education was of good quality but was reinforced with strict discipline and corporal punishment. Ainsworth was a strong student and was popular among his fellow students. Ainsworth’s school days were mixed; his time within the school and with his family was calm even though there were struggles within the Manchester community, the Peterloo Massacre taking place in 1819. Ainsworth was connected to the event because his uncles joined in protest at the incident, but Ainsworth was able to avoid most of the political after-effects. During the time, he was able to pursue his own literary interests and even created his own little theatre within the family home at King Street. He, along with his friends and brother, created and acted in many plays throughout 1820.

During 1820, Ainsworth began to publish many of his works under the name “Thomas Hall”. The first work, a play called The Rivals, was published on 5 March 1821 in Arliss’s Pocket Magazine. Throughout 1821, the magazine printed 17 other works of Ainsworth’s under the name “Thomas Hall”, “H A” or “W A”. The genre and forms of the work greatly varied, with one being a claim to have found plays of a 17th-century playwright “William Aynesworthe”, which ended up being his own works. This trick was later exposed. In December 1821, Ainsworth submitted his play Venice, or the Fall of the Foscaris to The Edinburgh Magazine. They printed large excerpts from the play before praising Ainsworth as a playwright as someone that rivalled even George Gordon Byron. During this time, Ainsworth was also contributing works to The European Magazine in addition to the other magazines, and they published many of his early stories. Eventually, he left the Manchester Grammar School in 1822 while constantly contributing to magazines.

After leaving school, Ainsworth began to study for law and worked under Alexander Kay. The two did not get along, and Ainsworth was accused of being lazy. Although Ainsworth did not want to pursue a legal career, his father pushed him into the field. Instead of working, Ainsworth spent his time reading literature at his home and various libraries, including the Chetham Library. He continued to work as an attorney in Manchester and spent his time when not working or reading at the John Shaw’s Club. By the end of 1822, Ainsworth was writing for The London Magazine, which allowed him to become close to Charles Lamb, to whom Ainsworth sent poetry for Lamb’s response. After receiving a favourable response for one set of works, Ainsworth had them published by John Arliss as Poems by Cheviot Ticheburn. He travelled some during 1822, and visited his childhood friend James Crossley in Edinburgh during August. While there, Crossley introduced Ainsworth to William Blackwood, the owner of Blackwood’s Magazine, and, through Blackwood, was introduced to many Scottish writers.

Besides Crossley, another close friend to Ainsworth was John Aston, a clerk who worked in his father’s legal firm. In 1823, Ainsworth and Crossley began to write many works together, including the first novel Sir John Chiverton. Ainsworth wrote to Thomas Campbell, editor of The New Monthly Magazine, about publishing the work: but Campbell lost the letter. At the request of Ainsworth, Crossley travelled to London to meet Campbell and discuss the matter before visiting in November. Although the novel was not yet published, in December 1823, Ainsworth was able to get G. and W. Whittaker to publish a collection of his stories as December Tales. During 1824, Ainsworth set about producing his own magazine, The Boeotian, which was first published on 20 March but ended after its sixth issue on 24 April.

Ainsworth’s father died on 20 June 1824 and Ainsworth became a senior in the law firm and began to focus on his legal studies. To this end he left for London at the end of 1824 to study under Jacob Phillips, a barrister at King’s Bench Walk. Ainsworth lived at Devereux Court, a place that was favoured by Augustine writers. During his stay, he visited Lamb, but felt let down by the real Lamb. Ainsworth attended Lamb’s circle, and met many individuals including Henry Crabb Robinson and Mary Shelley. During the summer of 1825, Ainsworth returned on a trip to Manchester in order to meet Crossley before travelling to the Isle of Man. He continued to write, and a collection of his poems called The Works of Cheviot Tichburn, with the types of John Leigh was published. He also had two works published in The Literary Souvenir, a magazine published by John Ebers.

On 4 February 1826, Ainsworth came of age and on 8 February was made a solicitor of the Court of King’s Bench. During this time, he befriended Ebers, who also owned the Opera House, Haymarket. Ainsworth would constantly visit shows at the house, and he fell in love with Ebers’s daughter Fanny during his visits. The relationship with the Ebers family continued, and John published a pamphlet of Ainsworth’s called Considerations on the best means of affording Immediate Relief to the Operative Classes in the Manufacturing Districts. The work, addressed to Robert Peel, discussed the economic situation in Manchester along with the rest of Britain. By June, Ainsworth left politics and focused on poetry with the publication of Letters from Cokney Lands. While these were printed he continued to work on his novel Sir John Chiverton and sought to have it published.

The novel was published by Ebers in July 1826. Ebers became interested in Ainsworth’s novel early on and started to add discussions about it in The Literary Souvenir in order to promote the work. Although the work was jointly written and sometimes claimed by Aston as solely his, many of the reviews described the novel as Ainsworth’s alone. The novel also brought Ainsworth to the attention of historical novelist Walter Scott, who later wrote about the work in various articles; the two later met in 1828. During that year, J. G. Lockhartt published Scott’s private journals and instigated the notion that the novel was an imitation of Scott. Sir John Chiverton is neither a true historical novel nor is it a gothic novel. It was also seen by Ainsworth as an incomplete work and he later ignored it when creating his bibliography. The novel does serve as a precursor to Ainsworth’s first major novel, Rookwood.

Ainsworth’s relationship with the Ebers family grew, and he married Fanny on 11 October 1826 with little warning to his family or friends. Ebers promised to pay a dowry of 300 pounds, but the funds were never given and this caused a strain in the relationship between Ainsworth and his father-in-law. Ainsworth continued in Ebers’s circle and attended many social events. He was encouraged by Ebers to sell his partnership in the Ainsworth law firm along with starting a publishing business. Ainsworth followed this advice, and the business had early success. In 1827, Fanny gave birth to a girl who took her name. Soon after, Ebers went bankrupt and Ainsworth lost a large sum as a consequence. Ainsworth published a few popular works, including The French Cook, the annual magazine Mayfair, and some others. By 1829, Ebers took over Ainsworth’s publishing business, and Fanny gave birth to another daughter, Emily, soon after. Ainsworth gave up on publishing and resumed working in law. When a third daughter, Anne, was born in 1830, Ainsworth’s family began to feel financially strained. Ainsworth returned to writing and he contributed to Fraser’s Magazine, but it is uncertain how many works were actually his. However, he was working on his novel Rookwood.

By 1829, Ainsworth was neither a lawyer nor a publisher; indeed he did not have any employment at all. He longed for his youthful days in Manchester and pondered writing another novel. By the summer, he had begun to travel. It was during this time that he began to develop the idea of Rookwood, and began searching for information on the subject. While researching for the novel in 1830, Ainsworth was living at Kensal Lodge. He worked on some theatrical pieces and spent the rest of his time working in the legal profession. He soon became friends with William Sergison, and the two travelled to Italy and Switzerland during that summer. During their travels, they visited the tomb of Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats, along with witnessing other notable scenes in the lives of the British Romantic poets. Sergison was also the owner of a residence in Sussex, upon which Ainsworth drew in his novel. After the two returned to London, Ainsworth began working for Fraser’s Magazine, which was launched in 1830. The group included many famous literary figures of the day, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, Thomas Carlyle, James Hogg and William Makepeace Thackeray. It was not until a visit to Chesterfield towards the end of 1831 that he was fully inspired to begin writing the novel.

Although he began writing the novel, Ainsworth suffered from more of his father-in-law’s financial problems and was unable to resume work on it until 1833. During the autumn of that year he managed to complete large portions of the novel while staying in Sussex, near Sergison’s home. The novel was published in April 1834 by Richard Bentley and contained illustrations by George Cruikshank. After working five years in the legal profession, Ainsworth gave it up and dedicated himself to writing. Rookwood garnered wide critical and financial success, and pleased his associates at Fraser’s Magazine. He started to dress as a dandy, and he was introduced to the Salon of Margaret Power, Countess of Blessington. Her Salon was a group of men and literary women, and would include many others but many in London believed that Blessington had a damaged reputation. However, this did not stop Ainsworth from meeting many famous British authors from the Salon. While part of her circle, he wrote for her collection of stories called The Book of Beauty, published in 1835. Ainsworth continued in various literary circles, but his wife and daughters did not; he stayed in Kensal Lodge while they lived with Ebers. During this time, Ainsworth met Charles Dickens and introduced the young writer to the publisher Macrone and to George Cruikshank. Ainsworth also introduced Dickens to John Forster at Kensal Lodge, initiating a close friendship between the two.

From 1835 until 1838, Ainsworth and Dickens were close friends and often travelled together. Rookwood was published in multiple editions, with a fourth edition in 1836 including illustrations by Cruikshank, which started the working relationship between the two. Ainsworth began writing another novel in 1835. Called Crichton, he devoted much of his time to it to the point of not having time for many of his literary friends. Its publication was temporarily delayed while Ainsworth was searching for an illustrator, with Thackeray being a possible choice. However, Ainsworth felt the illustrations were unsatisfactory, so he switched to Daniel Maclise, who was also later dropped. Coinciding with the search for an illustrator and hurrying to complete the novel, Ainsworth was asked to write for the magazine The Lions of London, but could not find the time to work on both projects and so attempted to finish the novel. The situation changed after Macrone, the original intended publisher, died. Ainsworth turned to Bentley as a publisher. Ainsworth eventually published his third novel in 1837. A fifth edition of Rookwood appeared in 1837, and its success encouraged Ainsworth to work on another novel about a famous outlaw, including the story of Jack Sheppard.

In 1839, Ainsworth was working on his next novel. Jack Sheppard was serially published in Bentley’s Miscellany from January 1839 until February 1840 while Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist ran in the magazine. A controversy developed over the Newgate novels, and Dickens became distant from Ainsworth over the controversy. Soon after, Dickens retired from the magazine as its editor and made way for Ainsworth to replace him at the end of 1839. Jack Sheppard was published in a three volume edition by Bentley in October 1839, and 8 different theatrical versions of the story were staged in autumn 1839. Ainsworth followed Jack Sheppard with two novels: Guy Fawkes and The Tower of London. Both ran through 1840, and Ainsworth celebrated the conclusion of The Tower of London with a large dinner party to celebrate the works.

With the 1840 novels finished, Ainsworth began to write Old St. Paul’s, A Tale of the Plague and the Fire. The work ran in The Sunday Times from 3 January 1841 to 26 December 1841, which was an achievement as he became one of the first writers to have a work appear in a national paper in such a form. His next works, Windsor Castle and The Miser’s Daughter, appeared in 1842. The first mention of Windsor Castle comes in a letter to Crossley, 17 November 1841, in which Ainsworth admits to writing a novel about Windsor Castle and the events surrounding Henry VIII’s first and second marriages. The Miser’s Daughter was published first, starting with the creation of the Ainsworth’s Magazine, an independent project that Ainsworth started after leaving Bentley’s Miscellany. To create the magazine, Ainsworth joined up with Cruikshank who would serve as the illustrator. Cruikshank moved his efforts from his own magazine, The Omnibus to the new magazine, and an advertisement for it appeared in December 1841 saying that the first issue would be published on 29 January 1842. The opening of the magazine was welcomed by contemporary members of the press, which only increased as the magazine proved to be successful. Ainsworth’s Magazine marked the height of his career.

Ainsworth hoped to start publishing Windsor Castle in his magazine by April, but he was delayed when his mother died on 15 March 1842. John Forster wrote to Ainsworth to offer assistance in writing the novel, but there is no evidence that Ainsworth accepted. The work was soon finished and started appearing in the magazine by July 1842, where it ran until June 1843. George Cruikshank, illustrator for The Miser’s Daughter, took over as illustrator for Windsor Castle after the first one finished its run. A play version of The Miser’s Daughter, by Edward Stirling, appeared in October 1842, with another version by T. P. Taylor in November. During this time, Ainsworth had many well-known contributors to his magazine, including the wife of Robert Southey, Robert Bell, William Maginn in a posthumous publication, and others. By the end of 1843, Ainsworth sold his stake in the Ainsworth’s Magazine to John Mortimer while staying as the editor. The next work that Ainsworth included in his magazine was Saint James’s or the Court of Queen Anne, An Historical Romance, which ran from January 1844 until December 1844. The work was illustrated by George Cruikshank, which marks the last time that Ainsworth and Cruikshank collaborated on a novel.

In 1844, Ainsworth helped in the building of the monument to Walter Scott in Edinburgh. He spent his year visiting many people, including members of the British nobility. The popularity of his magazine decreased in the year due to a lack of quality works except for a series by Leigh Hunt, A Jar of Honey from Mount Hybla. Even Ainsworth’s own work, St James’s, was damaged because it was written in haste. During this time, Ainsworth began one of his best novels, Auriol, but it was never finished. It was published in part between 1844–1845 as Revelations of London. Hablot Browne, using the name “Phiz”, illustrated the work and became the main illustrator for the magazine. The novel was being produced until Ainsworth and Mortimer fought in early 1845, and Ainsworth resigned as editor. Soon after, Ainsworth bought The New Monthly Magazine and started asking contributors to the Ainsworth’s Magazine to join him at the new periodical. Ainsworth issued an advertisement saying that there would be contributors of “high rank”, which caused Thackeray to attack Ainsworth in Punch for favouring the nobility. However, Thackeray later contributed to the magazine along with others including Hunt, E V Keanley, G P R James, Horace Smith, and Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Ainsworth reprinted many of his own works in the magazine and his own portrait, the latter provoking a mock portrait of the back of Ainsworth’s head in Punch as the only angle that Ainsworth had not yet published for the public.

In 1845, two of Ainsworth’s friends and contributors died, Laman Blanchard and Richard Barham. Later in the year, Ainsworth was able to regain control over the Ainsworth’s Magazine and continued to republish many of his earlier works. He spent much of his time recruiting contributors to the two magazines, and published a new work in 1847, James the Second but claimed only to be the “editor” of the work. By 1847, he was able to purchase the copyright of many of his earlier works in order to reissue them. During this time, he was working on what would be his best novel, The Lancashire Witches. By the end of 1847, the plan of the novel was finished and the work was to be published in The Sunday Times.

In April 1872, a version of The Miser’s Daughter, called Hilda, was produced for the Adelphi Theatre by Andrew Halliday. On 6 April 1872, Cruikshank submitted a letter to The Times, claiming that he was upset about his name being left out of the credits for the play. Additionally, he claimed that the idea for the novel came from himself and not from Ainsworth. This provoked a controversy between the two.

His first success as a writer came with Rookwood in 1834, which features Dick Turpin as its leading character. In 1839 he published another novel featuring a highwayman, Jack Sheppard. From 1840 to 1842 he edited Bentley’s Miscellany, from 1842 to 1853, Ainsworth’s Magazine and subsequently The New Monthly Magazine.

His Lancashire novels cover altogether 400 years and include The Lancashire Witches, 1848, Mervyn Clitheroe, 1857, and The Leaguer of Lathom. Jack Sheppard, Guy Fawkes, 1841, Old St Paul’s, 1841, Windsor Castle, 1843, and The Lancashire Witches are regarded as his most successful novels. He was very popular in his lifetime and his novels sold in large numbers, but his reputation has not lasted well.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Hone
3 June 1780 – 8 November 1842

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William Hone

Hone was born at Bath, and had a strict religious upbringing. The only education he received was to be taught to read from the Bible. His father moved to London in 1783, and in 1790 Hone was placed in an attorney’s office. After two and a half years in the office of a solicitor at Chatham he returned to London to become clerk to a solicitor at Gray’s Inn. But he disliked the law, and had learned to think for himself. To the great concern of his father, he joined the London Corresponding Society in 1796, which campaigned to extend the vote to working men and was deeply unpopular with the government, who had tried to charge its leaders with treason.

Hone married in 1800, and started a book and print shop with a circulating library in Lambeth Walk. He soon moved to St Martin’s Churchyard, where he brought out his first publication, Shaw’s Gardener (1806). It was at this time that he and his friend, John Bone, tried to establish a popular savings bank, and even spoke to the President of the Board of Trade about the project; they were unsuccessful. Bone then joined Hone in a bookseller’s business; but bankruptcy was the result.

In 1811, Hone was employed by the booksellers as auctioneer to the trade, and had an office in Ivy Lane. Independent investigations carried on by him into the condition of lunatic asylums led again to business difficulties and failure, but he took a small lodging in the Old Bailey, keeping himself and his now large family by contributions to magazines and reviews. He hired a small shop, or rather box, in Fleet Street but this was twice robbed, and valuable books lent for show were stolen. In 1815 he started the Traveller newspaper, and tried in vain to save Elizabeth Fenning, a cook convicted on thin evidence of poisoning her employers with arsenic. Although Fenning was executed, Hone’s 240 page book on the subject, The Important Results of an Elaborate Investigation into the Mysterious Case of Eliza Fenning — a landmark in investigative journalism – demolished the prosecution’s case.

From 1 February to 25 October 1817, Hone published the Reformists’ Register, using it to criticise state abuses, which he later attacked in the famous political squibs and parodies, illustrated by George Cruikshank. In April 1817 three ex-officio informations were filed against him by the attorney-general, Sir William Garrow. Three separate trials took place in the Guildhall before special juries on 18, 19 and 20 December 1817. The first, for publishing The Late John Wilkes’s Catechism of a Ministerial Member (1817), was before Mr Justice Abbot (afterwards Lord Tenterden); the second, for parodying the litany and libelling the Prince Regent in The Political Litany (1817), and the third, for publishing the Sinecurist’s Creed (1817), a parody on the Athanasian Creed, were before Lord Ellenborough.

The prosecution took the ground that the prints were harmful to public morals and brought the prayer-book and even religion itself into contempt. The real motives of the prosecution were political: Hone had ridiculed the habits and exposed the corruption of those in power. He went to the root of the matter when he wished the jury “to understand that, had he been a publisher of ministerial parodies, he would not then have been defending himself on the floor of that court.” In spite of illness and exhaustion Hone spoke on each of the three days for about seven hours. Although his judges were biased against him, he was acquitted on each count, and the result was received enthusiastically by immense crowds inside and outside the court. Soon afterwards, a public collection was made on his behalf.

Among Hone’s most successful political satires were The Political house that Jack built (1819), The Queen’s Matrimonial Ladder (1820), Ill favour of Queen Caroline, The Man in the Moon (1820) and The Political Showman (1821), all illustrated by Cruikshank. Many of his squibs are directed against a certain “Dr Slop”, a nickname given by him to Dr (afterwards Sir John) Stoddart, publisher of The Times. In researches for his defence he had come upon some curious and at that time little trodden literary ground, and the results were shown by his publication in 1820 of his Apocryphal New Testament, and in 1823 of his Ancient Mysteries Explained. In 1826 he published the Every-day Book, in 1827-1828 the Table-Book, and in 1829 the Year-Book. All three were collections of curious information on manners, antiquities and various other subjects.

These are the works by which Hone is best remembered. In preparing them he had the approval of Robert Southey and the assistance of Charles Lamb, but they were not financially successful, and Hone was lodged in King’s Bench Prison for debt. Friends, however, again came to his assistance, and he was established in a coffee-house in Gracechurch Street; but this, like most of his business enterprises, ended in failure. Hone’s attitude of mind had gradually changed to that of extreme devoutness, and during the latter years of his life, he became a follower of Rev. Thomas Binney and preached in Binney’s Weigh House Chapel, Eastcheap. In 1830 he edited Strutt’s Sports and Pastimes of the people of England, and he contributed to the first number of the Penny Magazine. He was also for some years sub-editor of The Patriot. He died at Tottenham and is buried at Dr Watts’ Walk in Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Mulready
1 April 1786 – 7 July 1863

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William Mulready

William Mulready was born in Ennis, County Clare. Early in his life, in 1792, the family moved to London, where he was able to get an education and was taught painting well enough so that he was accepted at the Royal Academy School at the age of fourteen.

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Choosing the Wedding Gown

In 1802, he married Elizabeth Varley, a landscape painter. Their three children, Paul Augustus, William, and Michael also became artists. His relationship with his wife however deteriorated gradually over the years, which is detailed in papers stored at the library of the Victoria and Albert Museum. His strong Catholic beliefs prevented any chance of a divorce but they separated. He accused her of “bad conduct” but shied from providing details. In a letter to him in 1827 she blamed him entirely for the collapse of their marriage, suggesting cruelty, pederastic activities and adultery were the reasons.

Many of his early pictures show landscapes, before he started to build a reputation as a genre painter from 1808 on, painting mostly everyday scenes from rural life. Besides this, he also illustrated books, including the first edition of Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare in 1807. His paintings were very popular in Victorian times. His first painting of importance, Returning from the Ale House, now in the Tate Gallery, London, under the title Fair Time, appeared in 1809.

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The Sonnet

In 1815 he became an Associate of the Royal Academy (A.R.A.) and R.A. in 1816. In the same year, he also was awarded the French “Légion d’honneur”. Mulready’s most important pictures are in the Victoria and Albert Museum and in the Tate Gallery. In the former are 33, among them Hampstead Heath (1806); Giving a Bite (1836); First Love (1839); The Sonnet (1839); Choosing the Wedding Gown (1846); and The Butt (Shooting a Cherry) (1848). In the latter are five, including a Snow Scene. In the National Gallery, Dublin, are Young Brother and The Toy Seller. His Wolf and the Lamb is in Royal possession.

In 1840, Mulready designed the illustrations for the postal stationery, known as Mulready stationery were introduced by the royal Mail at the same time as the Penny Black in May 1840, They were issued in two forms; one variant was precut to a diamond or lozenge shape and folded to form an envelope that could be held together by seal at the apex of the topmost flap; and lettersheets that were cut in rectangles, folded over and sealed or tucked in.

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Ira Aldridge

Stationery manufacturers, whose livelihood was threatened by the new lettersheet, produced many caricatures (or lampoons) of Mulready’s design. Within two months a decision had been made to replace the Mulready designed stationery. Essentially Mulready’s designs were a folly.

He died at the age of 77 in Bayswater, London and is buried in the nearby Kensal Green Cemetery where a monument to his memory was erected.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Gifford
April 1756 – 31 December 1826

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William Gifford

Gifford was born in Ashburton, Devonshire to Edward Gifford and Elizabeth Cain. His father, a glazier and house painter, had run away as a youth with vagabond Bampfylde Moore Carew, and he remained a carouser throughout his life. He died when William was thirteen; his mother died less than a year later. He was left in the care of a godfather who treated him with little consistency. Gifford was sent in turn to work as a plough boy, a ship’s boy, student, and cobbler’s apprentice. Of these, Gifford cared only for the life of a student, and he continued to write verses as he learned the cobbler’s trade. Gifford’s fortunes changed when his first poetical efforts came to the attention of an Ashburton surgeon, William Cookesley. Cookesley raised a subscription to have the boy’s apprenticeship bought out and he returned to school.

By 1779 he had entered Exeter College, Oxford as a bible clerk (that is, a servitor), matriculating on 16 February 1779 and graduating B.A. 10 October 1782. Already while at Oxford, he had begun work on his translation of Juvenal. After graduation, he earned the patronage of Lord Grosvenor. He spent most of the ensuing decade as tutor to Grosvenor’s son. In course of time he produced his first poem, The Baviad (1791), a satire directed against the Della Cruscans, a group of sentimental and to Gifford’s conservative mentality dangerously radical poets. The Baviad is a ‘paraphrastic’ (that is, according to the OED, a work having ‘the nature of a paraphrase’) ‘imitation’ of the first satire of the Roman poet Persius (34–62 A.D.). Persius’s satire deals with the degenerate state of contemporary literature. Both literature and literary taste have become corrupt, and for him as for Gifford, poetic corruption mirrors political corruption: the decline in modern poetry reflects the decline of modern morals.

The Baviad was followed by another satire, The Maeviad (1795), against some minor dramatists. His last effort in this line was his Epistle to Peter Pindar (Dr. John Wolcot) (1800), inspired by personal enmity, which evoked a reply, A Cut at a Cobbler and a public letter in which Wolcot threatened to horse-whip Gifford. Gifford and Wolcot met in Wright’s bookshop in Piccadilly on 18 August 1800. According to most contemporary accounts, Wolcot attempted to cudgel Gifford; however, the diminutive but younger satirist wrested his stick from him and proceeded to lay about Wolcot, forcing him to flee down Piccadilly.

The earlier satirical writings had established Gifford as a keen, even ferocious critic, and he was appointed in 1797 editor of the Anti-Jacobin, which Canning and his friends had just started, and later of the Quarterly Review (1809–24). As editor of the Anti-Jacobin, Gifford published the pro-Tory satires and parodies of George Canning, John Hookham Frere, and George Ellis. Gifford edited The Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin in 1799.

By the turn of the century, Gifford’s efforts as a poet were all but over, and he spent the rest of his career as an editor, scholar, and occasional critic. From 1809 to 1824, he edited the Quarterly Review; in this capacity, he became an icon of Tory journalism. Though he contributed rarely, his style marked the periodical in all respects. Gifford was popularly supposed to have penned the attack on Keats’s ‘Endymion’ (the review was actually by John Wilson Croker), which Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron erroneously blamed for bringing about the death of the poet, ‘snuffed out’, in Byron’s phrase, ‘by an article’. Contributors to the review included Charles Lamb, Walter Scott, and Robert Southey; the last had been among the poets satirised in the previous decade by the Anti-Jacobin.

His work as translator and editor was only slightly less contentious than his work as editor. The translation of Juvenal, published in 1800 earned high praise. Even William Hazlitt, elsewhere a frank enemy, praised the preface, in which Gifford describes his difficult childhood. This edition remained in print for the next century. Near the end of his life, he produced a translation of Persius. As an editor, Gifford shared the age’s interest in Renaissance drama. He brought out editions of Massinger, Ben Jonson, and Ford.

Gifford gave up the editorship of the Quarterly in 1824, only two years before his own death; he was succeeded in that position by John Taylor Coleridge. John Gibson Lockhart took over in 1826.

Gifford never married, although he had a close, probably Platonic, relationship with Ann Davies, a servant; she died in 1815. His salary with the review amounted to nine hundred pounds a year by 1818, and his friendship with various wealthy Tories further insulated him from want. Indeed, when he died his will was proved at 25,000 pounds, the majority of which he bequeathed to the son of Cookesley, his first benefactor.

As a poet, Gifford is commonly judged to have reached his peak with the Baviad. In this work, which led to the more or less complete eclipse of the Della Cruscans, his lifelong tendency to unmoderated invective was restrained (though not completely) to produce a work that effectively satirised the Della Cruscan’s sentimentality and tendency to absurd mutual compliment. In later work, his interest in vituperation is judged to have overwhelmed any element of wit. Still, Byron named him the best of the age’s satirists. His satires are in heroic couplets after the manner of Alexander Pope; assorted other verse, little of it memorable, adopts the highly mannered style of the late eighteenth century.

As a critic he had acuteness; but he was one-sided, prejudiced, and savagely bitter, and much more influenced in his judgments by the political opinions than by the literary merits of his victims. These were faults he shared with his querulous and factional time; however, Gifford was among the most virulent practitioners of the art of partisan review. As an editor, he played an important role in the revival of Jonson’s reputation after a period of neglect.

His satirical poems are included in volume 4 of British Satire 1785–1840, 5 vols (2003), ed. John Strachan. The Poetry of the Anti-Jacobin was edited by Graeme Stones in 1999 (Pickering and Chatto). Everyman publishes Gifford’s Juvenal.

Kathryn Sutherland, professor of the Faculty of English Language and Literature at Oxford University, has studied the manuscript of a discarded chapter of Jane Austen‘s Persuasion and has conjectured that much of Austen’s polished style is probably the result of editorial tidying by Gifford, who worked for the publisher John Murray. There is no direct evidence that Gifford edited the work, however.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

James Kenney
1780 – 25 July 1849

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James Kenney

Kenney was an English dramatist, the son of James Kenney, one of the founders of Boodles’ Club in London.

His first play, a farce called Raising the Wind (1803), was a success owing to the character of “Jeremy Diddler”.

Kenney produced more than forty dramas and operas between 1803 and 1845, and many of his pieces, in which Sarah Siddons, Madame Vestris, Maria Foote, Monk Lewis, John Liston and other players appeared .

His most popular play was Sweethearts and Wives, produced at the Haymarket Theatre in 1823; and among the most successful of his other works were: False Alarms (1807), a comic opera with music by Braham; Love, Law and Physic (1812); Spring and Autumn (1827); The Illustrious Stranger, or Married and Buried (1827); Masaniello (1829); The Sicilian Vespers, a tragedy (1840).

Kenney, who numbered Charles Lamb and Samuel Rogers among his friends, died in London in 1849. He married the widow of the dramatist Thomas Holcroft, by whom he had two sons and two daughters.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Charles Lamb
February 10 1775 – December 27 1834

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Charles Lamb

Lamb was born in London, the son of Elizabeth Field and John Lamb. Lamb was the youngest child. John Lamb was a lawyer’s clerk, to Samuel Salt who lived in the Inner Temple. It was there in Crown Office Row that Charles Lamb was born and spent his youth.

Lamb created a portrait of his father in his “Elia on the Old Benchers” under the name Lovel.

It appears that Charles’ Aunt Hetty often cared for him and this caused tension with his mother. Some of Lamb’s fondest childhood memories were of time spent with Mrs. Field, his maternal grandmother, who was for many years a servant to the Plummer family. After the death of Mrs. Plummer, Lamb’s grandmother was in sole charge of the large home and, as Mr. Plummer was often absent, Charles had free rein of the place during his visits.

Little is known about Charles’s life before the age of seven. It is believed that he suffered from smallpox during his early years. After his recovery Lamb began to take lessons from Mrs. Reynolds, a woman who lived in the Temple and is believed to have been the former wife of a lawyer. In 1781 Charles left Mrs. Reynolds and began to study at the Academy of William Bird.

By 1782 Lamb was enrolled in Christ’s Hospital, a charity boarding school chartered by King Edward VI in 1552. The headmaster, Mr. Boyer, has become famous for his teaching in Latin and Greek, but also for his brutality. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was also a student and one with whom Charles developed a friendship that would last for their entire lives. Lamb did well at Christ’s Hospital.

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Portrait of Charles Lamb

Charles Lamb suffered from a stutter thus disqualifying him for a clerical career. Coleridge and other scholarly boys were able to go on to Cambridge, Lamb left school at fourteen and was forced to find a more prosaic career.

For a short time he worked in the office of Joseph Paice, a London merchant and then he held a small post in the Examiner’s Office of the South Sea House. It fell when the bubble burst and Lamb left. Later in 1792 he went to work in the Accountant’s Office for British East India Company. Charles would continue to work there for 25 years, until his retirement with pension.

In 1792 while tending to his grandmother, Mary Field, in Hertfordshire, Charles Lamb fell in love with a young woman named Ann Simmons. Lamb seems to have spent years wooing Miss Simmons. The record of the love exists in several accounts of Lamb’s writing. Miss Simmons eventually went on to marry a silversmith by the name of Bartram and Lamb called the failure of the affair his ‘great disappointment.’

Charles and his sister Mary both suffered periods of mental illness. Charles spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital during 1795. He was making his name as a poet at the time.

In 1796, a terrible event occurred: Mary was seized and stabbed her mother to the heart with a table knife. There was no legal status of ‘insanity’ at the time, a jury returned a verdict of ‘Lunacy’ and therefore freed her from guilt of willful murder. With the help of friends Lamb succeeded in obtaining his sister’s release from what would otherwise have been lifelong imprisonment, on the condition that he take personal responsibility for her safekeeping. Lamb used a large part of his relatively meagre income to keep his beloved sister in a private ‘madhouse’ in Islington called Fisher House.

In 1799 John Lamb, the father, died. Charles was relieved because his father had been incapacitated since suffering a stroke. It also meant that Mary could come to live with him in Pentonville. In 1800 they set up a shared home at Mitre Court Buildings in the Temple.

Despite bouts of melancholia and alcoholism, he enjoyed an active and rich social life. The London quarters became a weekly salon for many of the most outstanding theatrical and literary figures of the day.

Fortuitously, Lamb’s first publication was in 1796, when four sonnets by “Mr. Charles Lamb of the India House” appeared in Coleridge’s Poems on Various Subjects. In 1797 he contributed additional blank verse to the second edition, and met the Wordsworths, William and Dorothy, on his short summer holiday with Coleridge at Nether Stowey, thereby striking up a friendship with William. In London, Lamb became familiar with a group of young writers who favoured political reform, including Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Hazlitt, and Leigh Hunt.

Lamb continued to clerk for the East India Company and doubled as a writer in various genres, his tragedy, John Woodvil (1802). His farce, Mr H, was performed at Drury Lane in 1807. In the same year, Tales from Shakespeare was published, and became a best seller.

His collected essays, Essays of Elia(1823) A further collection was published ten years or so later, shortly before Lamb’s death.

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