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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 29.djvu/356

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Jerrold
Jerrold
350

(Willert Beale, Light of Other Days, 1890). In 1818 he wrote a play, ‘The Duellists,’ which was rejected by Arnold of the English Opera House. It was rechristened ‘More Frightened than Hurt,’ was played at the Sadler's Wells Theatre 30 April 1821, was afterwards translated into French, played in Paris, retranslated by Mr. Kenney, and played at the Olympic as ‘Fighting by Proxy.’ It contained much sparkling dialogue and a good plot of the low-comedy kind. At the age of sixteen he entered the service of a printer named Bigg in Lombard Street, printer of the ‘Sunday Monitor,’ for which paper he soon began to write. He afterwards became a regular contributor to the magazines. The hardships of these early years, and the literary radicalism of the writers whom he most admired, generated his characteristic mood of righteous, but rather indiscriminate and unpractical, indignation against shams, abuses, and inequalities. In 1823 he and his friend Samuel Laman Blanchard seriously thought of joining the Greek insurgents. He was already engaged to Mary, daughter of Thomas Swann of Wetherby in Yorkshire, and married her in 1824, but continued to live with his mother and sisters in constant occupation as printer, writer, and student. In 1825, to provide for the growing wants of his family, he engaged himself at a small salary to write all kinds of dramatic pieces for Davidge, manager of the Coburg Theatre, who proved a harsh employer. He was also contributing to the ‘Weekly Times,’ ‘The Ballot,’ and other papers, sometimes in his own name, sometimes as Henry Brownrigg. He was also part proprietor, with Dr. Crucifix, of a Sunday newspaper. Quarrelling bitterly with Davidge, he took his comedy ‘Black-eyed Susan, or All in the Downs,’ to Elliston at the Surrey Theatre, and was engaged by him as dramatic author at 5l. a week. This piece was his first great success. It was produced 8 June 1829, with T. P. Cooke as William, and drew crowds to the theatre. It ran for three hundred nights, and was eventually, in 1835, played at Drury Lane. It was played four hundred times in all in 1829. Many fortunes were made out of it; but Jerrold only received 60l. His fame as a playwright, however, brought him profit, and he produced three more plays before the end of the year. Introduction to the patent theatres was now open to him, and having produced ‘The Devil's Ducat, or the Gift of Mammon,’ on 16 Dec. 1830 at the Adelphi, he at length had his ‘Bride of Ludgate’ acted at Drury Lane on 8 Dec. 1831. He continued writing plays till 1835, his most successful dramatic year. He unfortunately undertook in 1836 the management of the Strand Theatre with his brother-in-law, W. J. Hammond. He wrote several pieces for this theatre, and appeared as Roderick in his one-act tragedy, ‘The Painter of Ghent,’ for a few nights without success.

Jerrold now began to turn steadily to non-dramatic writing. During his busiest years as a playwright he contributed to the ‘Athenæum,’ the ‘Morning Herald,’ and the ‘Monthly Magazine.’ Money difficulties, occasioned by a lax and unheeding generosity, had obliged him to retire to Paris in the winter of 1835, when he began to write for ‘Blackwood's Magazine.’ He contributed to the ‘Freemasons' Quarterly’ and to various annuals. Selections from these papers were collected as ‘Men of Character,’ in three volumes, in 1838, with illustrations by Thackeray. Between 1842 and 1845 he wrote no play, but on 26 April 1845 he produced at the Haymarket a five-act comedy, full of epigram, ‘Time works Wonders,’ which ran for ninety nights.

The appearance of ‘Punch’ in 1841 introduced Jerrold to his most congenial sphere of work, and from No. 2 till ten days before his death he was a constant contributor. His first article, signed Q., appeared 12 Sept. 1841, and his Q. papers first attracted attention to ‘Punch.’ Subsequently he wrote ‘Punch's Letters to his Son,’ republished in 1843, and ‘Punch's Complete Letter-writer,’ republished in 1845. His greatest success of all was ‘Mrs. Caudle's Curtain Lectures,’ republished first from ‘Punch’ in 1846. It has been reprinted and translated times without number, but Jerrold was undesirous of being estimated simply as a ‘wit’ or a farcical writer. He valued most highly his more serious writings, ‘The Story of a Feather,’ 1844, ‘The Chronicles of Clovernook,’ 1846, and ‘A Man made of Money,’ published in 1849. In 1847 he was, together with the other chief contributors to ‘Punch,’ Mark Lemon and Gilbert à Beckett, the subject of a very bitter attack in Bunn's well-known ‘A Word with Punch,’ in which Jerrold himself appeared as ‘Wronghead’ [see Bunn, Alfred, 1796–1860].

For some time he had been busy with journalistic speculations, many of which turned out disastrously. In 1843 the ‘Illuminated Magazine’ was founded, and he became editor, but after two years the magazine died. In 1845, having just removed from Regent's Park to Putney, he started ‘Douglas Jerrold's Shilling Magazine,’ in which he published his novel, ‘St. Giles and St. James.’ In 1846 appeared ‘Douglas Jerrold's Weekly