WHITEHEAD, Charles (1804-1862)


WHITEHEAD, Charles (1804-1862)
novelist
was born in London in 1804, the son of a wine merchant. He received a good education and entered a commercial office as a clerk. His first literary work was a long poem, The Solitary, published in 1831, which was followed by a large amount of miscellaneous writing including Richard Savage, his finest novel, published in 1842, The Earl of Essex, an historical romance (1843), and many short stories. He was a friend of Dickens, Thackeray, and other well-known men of letters of the period. He unfortunately gave way to drink and in 1857 left for Melbourne, probably hoping that he would be able to make a fresh start there. A shy scholarly-looking man with undoubted ability, he was in no way fitted for the colonial life of the period. While in Australia he wrote a little for the press but published nothing in book form, and though befriended by James Smith (q.v.) and others he was obliged to apply for admittance to the Melbourne benevolent asylum in February 1862. A few months later he was picked up exhausted in one of the streets and taken to the Melbourne hospital, where he died on 5 July 1862. His wife came with him to Victoria but predeceased him.
Mackenzie Bell, Charles Whitehead: A Forgotten Genius, which gives a list of his writings; A. H. Miles, The Poets and the Poetry of the Century, Keats to Lytton.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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