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John Abraham Heraud

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Published : 7 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : 5/7/1799
Death : 20/4/1887
Views : 3584

Poet and dramatist. The initial recorded for Heraud in the Office Book entry for his first contribution cannot be read as other than “H”; it may be intended for "A" or it may be a misrecording. Heraud was privately educated; for some time engaged in business as law stationer, but found the duties distasteful. Early began writing verse. By long and patient study, became a man of wide and varied erudition. Was excellent German scholar; attempted to popularize in England the philosophy of Schelling. Friend of Southey, who gave him encouragement and advice on literary career, and helpful criticism on his poems; friend of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lockhart, Carlyle; much influenced by Coleridge and Carlyle. Was never very successful financially; at one time became bankrupt through no fault of his own; admitted a brother of the Charterhouse, 1873. Contributed to Quarterly Review, Howitt's Journal, Chambers's, Temple Bar, Belgravia, and other periodicals. Assisted in editorship of Fraser's ,1830-1833; editor of Sunbeam, 1838-1839; subsequently of Monthly Magazine and of Christian Monthly Magazine. Dramatic critic for Athenaeum, 1843-1868; for Illustrated London News, 1849-1880. As poet, best known for his two epics, The Descent into Hell, 1830 (dedicated to Southey), and The Judgement of the Flood, 1834. His dramas Videna and Wife or No Wife both successfully produced; wrote also other dramatic works. Published an oration on Coleridge, 1834; a life of Savonarola, 1843; Shakspere, His Inner Life As  Intimated in His Works, 1865; and other writings.


Heraud and Dickens were evidently acquainted. Dickens addressed at least one Ietter to him. Dickens subscribed to the fund raised for Heraud in 1848 (letter to G. H. Lewes, September 11); in 1865 he mentioned in a letter to Bulwer-Lytton (October 28) the Possibility of Heraud's presenting himself as a candidate to receive assistance from the Guild of Literature and Art. Heraud reviewed, in the Athenaeum, December 20 1845, The Cricket on the Hearth. He found the story equal in "style and careful execution" to the best of Dickens's other writings; in many parts, he wrote, it "rises to a tone of sentiment that, in its elevation, must command the sympathy of the wisest and the best".

Heraud's first H.W. contribution contained the suggestion that theatres pay into a public fund a fee for performing the plays of Shakespeare and other early dramatists, the fund to be used for the maintenance of a National Theatre and for the encouragement and support of contemporary poetic drama. To this suggestion was attached the editorial footnote, probably by Dickens: "This is the individual Play-goer's 'Crotchet'. We doubt its efficacy, and do not adopt it". Heraud's last H.W. contribution was obviously motivated by Oxenford's "Touching the Lord Hamlet", October 17 1857.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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