Charles Robert Maturin

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Portrait of Charles Robert Maturin, 1819

Charles Robert Maturin (born September 25, 1780 in Dublin , † October 30, 1824 ibid) was an Irish Anglican clergyman and writer of gaudy novels and plays.

life and work

Charles R. Maturin was the son and last of six children of the Huguenot emigrant and clergyman William Maturin, who gave up the ministry for financial reasons and worked as a senior official for the Irish Post Office . Charles Robert Maturin is a great-uncle of Oscar Wilde . Encouraged by his parents' house, he practiced reading novels and dramas at a young age. Like his father, he initially aspired to an ecclesiastical office and studied theology at Trinity College in Dublin from 1795 . In Dublin he joined the historical society and was particularly distinguished by his oratory. After successfully completing his studies, he was ordained a minister by the Church of Ireland . He married his childhood sweetheart Henrietta Kingsbury, who came from an old Protestant family, in 1803. After working as a vicar in a small rural community, he returned to Dublin in 1805 and was there as Second Pastor of St. Peter (with the church on Aungier Street ) , the most important parish in the city. After his father's fortune had been used up, he supplemented his low income with private tuition for students preparing for university. He also started writing (on the free nights). Charles Maturin's father was dishonorably dismissed from civil service in 1810, despite proven innocence, which threatened poverty for the family.

Charles Maturin made his debut as a writer in 1807 under the Irish-sounding pseudonym Dennis Jasper Murphy , which was soon to be released , but his first three works (including The Family of Montorio ) failed to convince critics or readers. Together with his role models Ann Radcliffe (with The Italian ) and Matthew Gregory Lewis (with The Monk ), Maturin wrote mysterious short stories and horror novels. In their literary work they rejected the realism of the Enlightenment and felt more committed to the Middle Ages; which they saw and described, however, in a romantic way and full of secrets.

Their literary work soon attracted the attention of Walter Scott , who had reviewed Maturin's first novel in Quarterly Review and recommended his works by Lord Byron . Through Byron's mediation, Bertram was successfully performed with Edmund Kean in the title role on 22 evenings in 1816 at London's Drury Lane Theater . Honoré de Balzac and Charles Baudelaire later expressed their admiration for Maturin's work, particularly for his most famous novel, Melmoth the Wanderer , which was written in the last years of his life and is considered to be one of the best English-language gaudy novels of Black Romanticism .

Maturin's only successful work during his lifetime was his stage play Bertram (the following plays fell through completely), the royalties of which, however, were almost entirely used up by Maturin's guarantee for an insolvent relative.

There is uncertainty and controversy about the authorship of the poem The Universe : The largely unknown poet James Wills stated shortly after its publication that the poem came from his pen. Maturin had received a large advance payment for a poem that he could not finish and therefore persuaded Wills to give him The Universe . Maturin's biographer Robert Lougy explains that the poem - whether plagiarized or not - would be rather mediocre and little to discern of Maturin's talent.

After the publication of Melmoth the Wanderer , Maturin is being shunned more and more because of his liberalism. In the end he only stays at the house of an old friend, Lady Morgan , who returned to Dublin in 1812 and who wrote The Wild Irish Girl . At the age of 40, a few weeks after the publication of his novel The Albigenes , Maturin, who had suffered all his life from financial hardship and social ostracism, died in Dublin on October 30, 1824 after increasing loss of strength and four weeks of illness.

In the summer of 1825, Walter Scott visited the Maturins family, whom he had never seen himself, in Dublin to write Maturin's biography and to collectively publish his works. As Scott's two publishers went bankrupt a little later and he himself was financially ruined, the plans remained. The manuscripts left behind were destroyed by William Maturin, Maturin's eldest son who was averse to literature and theater.


  • Fatal Revenge, or The Family of Montorio (1807)
  • The Wild Irish Boy (1808)
  • The Milesian Chief (1812)
  • Women, or Pour and Contre; a Tale (1818)
  • Melmoth the Wanderer (1820)
  • The Albigenses (1824)
  • Bertram, or the Castle of St. Aldobrand (1816), premiered in 1816 at the Drury Lane Theater
  • Manuel (1817), premiered at the Drury Lane Theater in 1817
  • Fredolfo (1819), premiered in 1819 at the Covent Garden Theater in London
  • Osmyn the Renegade, or The Siege of Salerno (1830, published posthumously)
  • Five Sermons on the Errors of the Roman Catholic Church (1824)


  • Richard GarnettMaturin, Charles Robert . In: Sidney Lee (Ed.): Dictionary of National Biography . Volume 37:  Masquerier - Millyng. , MacMillan & Co, Smith, Elder & Co., New York City / London 1894, pp. 74 - 76 (English).
  • Syndy M. Conger: Matthew G. Lewis, Charles Robert Maturin and the Germans. An Interpretative Study of the Influence of German Literature on Two Gothic Novels. Institute for English Language and Literature at the University of Salzburg 1977. Reprint: Arno Press, New York 1980, ISBN 0405126522 .
  • Oscar Friedrich Wilhelm Fernsemer: The dramatic works of Charles Robert Maturin with a short biography of the poet. Oldenbourg, Munich 1913 (dissertation University of Munich July 23, 1912).
  • Claude Fierobe: Charles Robert Maturin, 1780-1824. L'homme et l'œuvre. Service de reproduction des thèses, Université de Lille III, 1975 (also Diss. University of Toulouse, 1972).
  • Niilo Idman: Charles Robert Maturin: His Life and Works . Helsingfors centraltryckeri, Helsingfors 1923; Reprint: Constable & Co., London 1923 (also Diss. Helsingfors University).
  • Jim Kelly: Charles Maturin: Authorship, Authenticity and the Nation . Four Courts Press, Dublin and Portland OR 2011, ISBN 9781846823046 .
  • Dale Kramer: Charles Robert Maturin. Twayne, New York 1973, ISBN 0805713824 .
  • Robert E. Lougy: Charles Robert Maturin . Bucknell University Press, Lewisburg, Penn. 1975, ISBN 0838779417 .
  • Christina Morin: Charles Robert Maturin and the Haunting of Irish Romantic Fiction . Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York 2011, ISBN 9780719085321 .
  • Willem Scholten: Charles Robert Maturin, the terror novelist . Dissertation University of Amsterdam 1933.

Web links


  1. ^ Niilo Idman (1923). The year of birth 1780 was determined there, among other things, from the matriculation lists of the Trinitiy College .
  2. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. In: Melmoth the Wanderer. Paperback edition shortened by Michael Krüger. Licensed edition, Wilhelm Heyne, Munich 1971, pp. 346–350, here: p. 346 (“The frequent statement 1782 - so again in the article… from Kindler's literary dictionary… is based on a probably mystifying note by Maturin in the preface to The Family of Montorio ").
  3. ^ Robert Miles: Maturin, Charles Robert (1780-1824). In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography : “… 1780 (not 1782 as asserted by many previous sources”) . Oxford 2018.
  4. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. In: Melmoth the Wanderer. Paperback edition shortened by Michael Krüger. Licensed edition, Wilhelm Heyne, Munich 1971, pp. 346-350.
  5. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. 1971, p. 346.
  6. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. 1971, p. 346 f.
  7. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. 1971, p. 347.
  8. the title was by the booksellers The Family of Montorio still Fatal Revenge prefixed. See Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. 1971, p. 350.
  9. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. 1971, p. 347 ("This young man's taste is so inferior to his powers of imagination and expression that I can never find a more remarkable example of a mind demoted by his own enterprise").
  10. ^ The Monthly Magazine. Volume 20, 1827.
  11. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. 1971, p. 347 f. and 351.
  12. Kindler's new literary dictionary , Munich 1988, vol. 11, p. 343.
  13. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. 1971, p. 347.
  14. ^ [1] Robert E. Lougy: Charles Robert Maturin , p. 75.
  15. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. 1971, p. 347 f.
  16. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. 1971, p. 348 f.
  17. ^ Michael Krüger: Charles Robert Maturin. In: Melmoth the Wanderer. Paperback edition shortened by Michael Krüger. Licensed edition, Wilhelm Heyne, Munich 1971, pp. 346–351, here: p. 351.