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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Whitehead, Charles

Whitehead, Charles, was born in London in 1804. His first volume, "The Solitary," a poem in three parts, was published in 1831 by Effingham Wilson, then Tennyson's publisher. This was followed by a work of a totally different kind, whose title, "Lives and Exploits of English Highwaymen, Pirates, and Robbers," sufficiently indicates its scope and character. Mr. Whitehead next published a romance called "Jack Ketch." More notable in the history of literature than any of his own achievements, however, was his recommendation of Dickens to Chapman & Hall, who wanted a ready writer of comic "copy" for the artist Seymour's sketches. The commission was indeed offered to Whitehead, who passed it on to his friend Boz; hence the existence of "Pickwick." In 1836 Whitehead produced a play entitled The Cavalier at the Haymarket Theatre, which had some measure of success. His best work, "Richard Savage: a Romance," appeared in Bentley's Miscellany (1841-2), and was most favourably received by the critics. In 1843 he published "The Earl of Essex," a historical romance, and in 1847 "Smiles and Tears; or, The Romance of Life," a novel in three volumes. In 1857 he and his wife emigrated to Victoria, and in 1862 he died in great penury in the Melbourne hospital. Although a casual worker on the local press, Mr. Whitehead did no good work in the colony; and his literary career may be said to have ended some years before he left England. Mr. Whitehead was an intimate friend of Charles Dickens, Douglas Jerrold, and other leading writers of the time. His Life has been written by Mr. Mackenzie Bell, who, however, does not record the fact that he was the uncle of the well-known English actress Mrs. Bernard Beere, who has recently been on a professional tour, and has been most warmly welcomed in the city where her father's brother died so miserably.