Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men of the day/John Hollingshead


For fifteen years Mr. Hollingshead has been an active literary and public man. His literary career was begun much later than that of several of his contemporaries, but by his industry and ability he speedily succeeded in placing himself in the van. And in that particular walk of life to which he has devoted his energies, he may be placed in the first rank.

John Hollingshead was born in London in September 1829. He is the son of Mr. Henry Randall Hollingshead; and being intended by his father for a City life, he was educated with this end in view at Homerton. His family have been connected for many generations with City and business circles, and at an early age Mr. Hollingshead was placed with a London firm. But his literary tastes were so strong that he decided to embark on what is to ninety-nine aspirants out of a hundred the frailest bark that ever was launched—literary pursuits.

Having left his desk and the Gillott of commerce, he took up the quill of the man of letters; and when only twenty-six years of age, he had made such headway that his performances strongly recommended him to the late Charles Dickens, who engaged him permanently for the staff of 'Household Words.' Mr. Hollingshead was also a contributor to many leading papers, magazines, and reviews,—among which we may mention the 'Daily News,' 'London Review,' 'Punch,' ' Athenæum,' 'Times of India,' 'Cornhill Magazine,' 'All the Year Round,' and to the columns of 'Once a Week.' Mr. Hollingshead was—we suppose is—a philosophical Radical, and in all the publications he wrote for he religiously preserved his political consistency. He was the devoted disciple of J. Bentham when that worthy was neglected. He can now see Jeremy's image every time he walks on the pavement in front of the façade of Burlington House. Many of Mr. Hollingshead's most successful papers were written with the intention of making popular the principles of Mill and Bentham; and it appears that

SO HE PLAYS HIS PART. As You like it, act ii. sc. 7.

though the great humorist had little sympathy with the school himself, he let his collaborates say what he liked on the subject in 'All the Year Round.'

In 1859 some of his most popular papers were first collected and published in separate form, with the title of 'Under Bow Bells.' This volume contained the well-known essay called 'The City of Unlimited Paper,' which had attracted a great deal of attention in the monetary panic of 1857.

'Rubbing the Gilt off,' which appeared in 1860, was a collection of clever political essays, written in a very lively style—very readable, even to people who do not care about politics—and dedicated to John Bright, at a time when the ex-Cabinet Minister had apparently about as much chance of being made Archimandrite as President of the Board of Trade.

This book was followed by a collection of travels entitled 'Odd Journeys,' and by a volume of humorous papers entitled 'Ways of Life.' In the same year (1861) 'Ragged London' appeared. This was the reproduction of a series of letters which were published originally in the 'Morning Post.' The author's other publications are a collection of humorous stories entitled 'Rough Diamonds,' and two volumes of miscellaneous essays called 'To-day.'

Mr. Hollingshead is likewise a successful dramatist; and when the Exhibition of 1862 was projected he was called upon by the Commissioners to write the historical introduction to the official catalogues work done in 1851 by Mr. Cole, C.B.

In 1866, in connection with Mr. Dion Boucicault, he had carried through an agitation which resulted in dramatic free trade; and the attention of capitalists having been drawn to the want of first-class theatres in London, several have been built since that date. The Gaiety Theatre, in the Strand, is the best and most successful of the new theatres. Mr. Hollingshead opened it in December 1868, and is still lessee and manager of this, one of the most popular of our London playhouses. He has so played his part as manager as to please every taste, and has always secured the services of a first-rate company. His new dramas have been written by Robertson, Charles Reade, Gilbert, Oxenford, Byron, and Boucicault; and his company has included the names of Toole, Wigan, Boucicault, Charles Mathews, Mrs. Boucicault, Miss Neilson, and Miss Farren.