The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Neild, James Edward

Neild, James Edward, L.S.A.(Lond.), M.D., Ch.M. (Melb.), the well-known dramatic critic, was born at Doncaster, in Yorkshire, in 1824, and is descended from an Irish family who emigrated into England in 1642. He received his early education in Leeds, and in 1843 he went to Sheffield to his uncle, a surgeon in extensive practice there, to whom he was apprenticed for five years. Subsequently he completed his medical studies at University College, London. He passed his examination in 1848, and for two years was in practice at Oulton, near Leeds. He was then for three years house surgeon of the Rochdale General Dispensary. In 1853 he went to Victoria on a visit, but ultimately decided to stay in Melbourne, where he abandoned his profession and started business as a chemist and druggist. In 1855, having always had a desire for newspaper work, he became a reporter on the Melbourne Age, then only just started. After ceasing regular connection with the Age, he contributed a good many occasional theatrical notices to that paper. In 1856 the late Mr. T. L. Bright started "My Notebook," and engaged Dr. Neild to write the theatrical notices. This having dropped, the proprietors of the Argus issued the Examiner in 1857, with Mr. T. L. Bright as its first editor, and for upwards of two years Dr. Neild wrote the theatrical criticisms under the signature of "Christopher Sly." Ultimately the Examiner, the Yeoman, and the Weekly Argus were blended into one, under the title of the Australasian, in which Dr. Neild continued to do the theatrical criticism under the signature of "Jaques," and in more recent times under the nom de plume of "Tahite." His connection with the Argus, which belongs to the same proprietary as the Australasian, commenced in 1858, and he also contributed to Melbourne Punch and other papers. In 1864 he retired from the business as a chemist which he had carried on meanwhile, and resumed the practice of his profession. Almost coincidently he accepted the editorship of the Australian Medical Journal, and began to take an active part as a member of the Medical Society of Victoria, of which in 1868 he was elected president, and of which he was subsequently honorary secretary. In 1864 he took the degree of M.D. in the University of Melbourne, and the following year was appointed lecturer on forensic medicine. Dr. Neild is the author of several novelettes, and has had two comediettas successfully placed upon the stage. He married in 1857 the eldest daughter of Mr. D. R. Long.