Charles Maturin

Charles Robert Maturin, also known as C. R. Maturin (25 September 1782 – 30 October 1824), was an Irish Protestant clergyman (ordained in the Church of Ireland) and a writer of Gothic plays and novels.[1] His best known work is the novel Melmoth the Wanderer.

Charles Maturin
1819 engraving
Born25 September 1782
Died30 October 1824 (aged 42)
OccupationClergyman, writer
ChildrenEdward Maturin

Biography and works

Maturin was descended from Huguenots who found shelter in Ireland, one of whom was Gabriel Jacques Maturin who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin after Jonathan Swift in 1745. Charles Robert Maturin was born in Dublin and attended Trinity College. Shortly after being ordained as curate of Loughrea, County Galway, in 1803, he moved back to Dublin as curate of St Peter's Church. He lived in York Street with his father William, a Post Office official, and his mother, Fedelia Watson, and married on 7 October 1804 the acclaimed singer Henrietta Kingsbury.

His first three works were Gothic novels published under the pseudonym Dennis Jasper Murphy, and were critical and commercial failures. They did, however, catch the attention of Sir Walter Scott, who recommended Maturin's work to Lord Byron. With their help, Maturin's play Bertram was staged in 1816 at the Drury Lane for 22 nights, with Edmund Kean starring in the lead role as Bertram.[2] Financial success, however, eluded Maturin, as the play's run coincided with his father's unemployment and another relative's bankruptcy, both of them assisted by the fledgling writer. To make matters worse, Samuel Taylor Coleridge publicly denounced the play as dull and loathsome, and "melancholy proof of the depravation of the public mind",[3] going nearly so far as to decry it as atheistic.

The Church of Ireland took note of these and earlier criticisms and, having discovered the identity of Bertram's author (Maturin had shed his nom de plume to collect the profits from the play), subsequently barred Maturin's further clerical advancement. Forced to support his wife and four children by writing (his salary as curate was £80-90 per annum, compared to the £1000 he made for Bertram), he switched back from playwright to novelist after a string of his plays met with failure. He produced several novels in addition to Melmoth the Wanderer, including some on Irish subjects and The Albigenses, a historical novel which features werewolves.[1] Various poems have also been ascribed to Maturin on dubious grounds and appear to be the work of others. The prize-winning "Lines on the Battle of Waterloo" was published in 1816 under the name of the university graduate John Shee. "The Universe" appeared with Maturin's name on the title page in 1821, but is now thought to be almost completely the work of James Wills.[4]

The exaggerated effectiveness of Maturin's preaching can be gauged from the two series of sermons that he published. On the occasion of the death of Princess Charlotte, he declared: "Life is full of death; the steps of the living cannot press the earth without disturbing the ashes of the dead – we walk upon our ancestors – the globe itself is one vast churchyard." A contemporary account records that there had seldom been seen such crowds at St Peter's. "Despite the severe weather, people of all persuasions flocked to the church and listened spellbound to this prince of preachers. In his obituary it was said that, 'did he leave no other monument whereon to rest his fame, these sermons alone would be sufficient'."[5]

Maturin died in Dublin on 30 October 1824. A writer in the University Magazine was later to sum up his character as "eccentric almost to insanity and compounded of opposites – an insatiable reader of novels; an elegant preacher; an incessant dancer; a coxcomb in dress and manners."[6]

International reputation

In 1821 Maturin's successful play was adapted into French as Bertram, ou le Pirate by Charles Nodier and Baron Isidore Justin Séverin Taylor, and ran successfully for 53 nights in the following year. This version was the source for the even more successful opera Il pirata, with a libretto by Felice Romani and music by Vincenzo Bellini, premiered at La Scala of Milan in 1827. Victor Hugo admired the play and Alexandre Dumas based his Antony upon its hero in 1831. The play was also printed and frequently produced in the United States.

The novel Melmoth the Wanderer was also published in French translation in 1821 and served as an influential model for writers in France. In 1835 Honoré de Balzac wrote a parody, Melmoth Reconcilié, in which Maturin's hero goes to Paris, where he finds in its banking world an ethos that "has replaced the principle of honour by the principle of money" and easily finds someone to accept damnation in his place. In Balzac's eyes, "this novel is taken up with the same idea to which we already owe the drama of Faust and out of which Lord Byron has cut his cloth since Manfred". Charles Baudelaire was also an admirer of Maturin's novel, equating it with the poetry of Byron and Edgar Allan Poe.[7]

Family connections

A sister of Maturin's wife married Charles Elgee, whose daughter Jane Francesca became the mother of Oscar Wilde. Thus Charles Maturin was Oscar Wilde's great-uncle by marriage.[8] Wilde discarded his own name and adopted the name of Maturin's novel, Melmoth, during his exile in France.[9]

Maturin's eldest son, William Basil Kingsbury Maturin, followed him into the ministry, as did several of his grandsons. One of these, Basil W. Maturin, died in the sinking of RMS Lusitania in 1915. The second son was Edward Maturin, who emigrated to the United States and became a novelist and poet there.

Known works





  1. ^ a b Chris Morgan, "Maturin, Charles R(obert)." in St. James Guide to Horror, Gothic, and Ghost Writers, ed. David Pringle. Detroit and New York: St. James Press, 1998. (396–97) ISBN 1558622063
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. 17, Cambridge 1911, p. 903
  3. ^ Maturin, Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) from the course The Gothic Subject by David S. Miall, Department of English, University of Alberta, Autumn 2000
  4. ^ The Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature: 1800–1900, 1999, p.957
  5. ^ Maturin family history online Archived 2 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ "A Compendium of Irish Biography", Dublin 1878, the article on Charles Robert Maturin
  7. ^ See the introduction to the Penguin edition of the novel, 2000
  8. ^ Dawidziak, Mark (2008). The bedside, bathtub, and armchair companion to Dracula. Continuum, p. 29.ISBN 0826417949
  9. ^ Lovecraft, Howard Phillips (2010). Supernatural Horror in Literature, The Modern Library, p. 119. ISBN 0-8129-7441-7

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was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar, the 1782nd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 782nd year of the 2nd millennium, the 82nd year of the 18th century, and the 3rd year of the 1780s decade. As of the start of 1782, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1782 in Ireland

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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1812.

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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications of 1816.

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Events from the year 1820 in Ireland.

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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1820.



was a leap year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar and a leap year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar, the 1824th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 824th year of the 2nd millennium, the 24th year of the 19th century, and the 5th year of the 1820s decade. As of the start of 1824, the Gregorian calendar was

12 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1824 in Ireland

Events from the year 1824 in Ireland.

1824 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1824.

Addiction (Skinny Puppy song)

"Addiction" is a song by the band Skinny Puppy, taken from their 1987 album Cleanse Fold and Manipulate. It was released on vinyl in 1987 and released on CD in 1991 (Canada) and 1997 (United States). The lyrics of the song quote the 19th century Gothic novel Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin.

Il pirata

Il pirata (The Pirate) is an opera in two acts by Vincenzo Bellini with an Italian libretto by Felice Romani which was based on a three-act mélodrame from 1826: Bertram, ou le Pirate (Bertram, or The Pirate) by Charles Nodier and Isidore Justin Séverin Taylor). This play was itself based upon a French translation of the five-act verse tragedy Bertram, or The Castle of St. Aldobrand by Charles Maturin which appeared in London in 1816.The original play has been compared with Bellini's opera and the influence of Il pirata on Gaetano Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor has been noted. Also, Bellini's recycling of his own music in this opera has been analyzed, as well as his utilizing "a more self-consciously innovative compositional style" and participating more in work on the libretto, as compared with prior efforts where he was more deferential to the librettists chosen by the Naples opera management and the corresponding texts. In addition, 19th-century commentary refers to the musical influence of Il pirata on the early Richard Wagner opera Das Liebesverbot.

James Wills

James Wills (1 January 1790 – November 1868) was an Irish writer and poet.

Wills was born in County Roscommon, the younger son of a landowner. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and studied law in the Middle Temple, London. Deprived, however, of the fortune destined for him and the means of pursuing a legal career by the extravagance of his elder brother, he entered the Church. From 1822 to 1838 he lived in Dublin and wrote in the Dublin University Magazine, Blackwood's Magazine and other periodicals. He supported the Reverend Caesar Otway in building up the Irish Quarterly Review.

In 1831 he published The Disembodied and other Poems. The Philosophy of Unbelief (1835) attracted much attention. He actually wrote the famous poem "The Universe", even though it was published in 1821 under the name of Charles Maturin. He was editor of the Dublin University Magazine in 1841 and 1842.

His largest work was Lives of Illustrious and Distinguished Irishmen, and his last publication The Idolatress (1868). In all his writings gave evidence of a powerful personality. His poems are spirited, and in some cases show considerable dramatic qualities.

He died in Attanagh, County Laois. The famous dramatist and painter William Gorman Wills was his son.

Webb, Alfred (1878). "Wills, James" . A Compendium of Irish Biography. Dublin: M. H. Gill & son – via Wikisource. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). "Wills, James". A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons – via Wikisource.

List of horror fiction writers

This is a list of some (not all) notable writers in the horror fiction genre.

Note that some writers listed below have also written in other genres, especially fantasy and science fiction.

Melmoth the Wanderer

Melmoth the Wanderer is an 1820 Gothic novel by Irish playwright, novelist and clergyman Charles Maturin. The novel's titular character is a scholar who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for 150 extra years of life, and searches the world for someone who will take over the pact for him, in a manner reminiscent of the Wandering Jew.The novel is composed of a series of nested stories-within-stories, gradually revealing the story of Melmoth's life. The novel offers social commentary on early-19th-century England, and denounces Roman Catholicism in favour of the virtues of Protestantism.

Memnoch the Devil

Memnoch the Devil (1995) is a horror novel by American writer Anne Rice, the fifth in her Vampire Chronicles series, following The Tale of the Body Thief. Many of the themes of this novel and in large part the title are re-borrowed from the 19th Century gothic novel Melmoth the Wanderer by Irish author Charles Maturin. In this story, Lestat is approached by the Devil and offered a job at his side.

Thomas Furlong (poet)

Thomas Furlong (1794–1827), was an Irish poet.

Furlong was the son of a farmer, born at Scarawalsh, situated between Ferns and Enniscorthy, County Wexford. He obtained an appointment in the counting-house of an extensive distillery at Dublin, where he continued until his death.

His first work was a poem, 'The Misanthrope' (Lond. 1819), composed, he stated, with the object of reclaiming a friend who, owing to early disappointments, had retired from society. It was withdrawn by the author on account of numerous typographical errors. He issued a second edition at Dublin in 1821, with other poems. A poem entitled 'The Plagues of Ireland: an Epistle,' appeared at Dublin in 1824, with a view to promoting Catholic Emancipation. He described his work as "a little sketch and hasty picturing" of the more prominent evils and grievances which should be removed before that "harassed land" of Ireland could calculate on the enjoyment of tranquility. To 'The Plagues of Ireland' Furlong appended a few 'occasional poems.' He contributed largely to the 'New Monthly Magazine,' as well as to other periodicals, and projected a literary journal at Dublin. Thomas Moore, Charles Maturin, and Lady Morgan praised his work. At the instance of James Hardiman, author of the 'History of Galway,' Furlong undertook to produce metrical versions in English of the compositions of Carolan and other native Irish poets. While engaged on this work, and on a poem entitled 'The Doom of Derenzie,' Furlong died on 25 July 1827 at Dublin, and was interred in the churchyard of Drumcondra. Of the 'Doom of Derenzie' but one sheet had been revised by the author. It appeared posthumously (London, 1829). The poem treated the superstitions of the peasantry of Wexford. Several of Furlong's metrical translations, and a portrait of him, appeared in Hardiman's work on Irish minstrelsy (London, 1831). One of his compositions was, in 1845. included in Duffy's 'Ballad Poetry of Ireland.'

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