Charles Maturin  

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"Maturin's shudders, the work of one capable of shuddering himself, are of the sort that convince. Mrs. Radcliffe and Lewis are fair game for the parodist, but it would be difficult to find a false note in the feverishly intensified action and high atmospheric tension of the Irishman whose less sophisticated emotions and strain of Celtic mysticism gave him the finest possible natural equipment for his task. Without a doubt Maturin is a man of authentic genius, and he was so recognised by Balzac, who grouped Melmoth with Molière's Don Juan, Goethe's Faust, and Byron's Manfred as the supreme allegorical figures of modern European literature, and wrote a whimsical piece called "Melmoth Reconciled", in which the Wanderer succeeds in passing his infernal bargain to a Parisian bank defaulter, who in turn hands it along a chain of victims until a revelling gambler dies with it in his possession, and by his damnation ends the curse. Scott, Rossetti, Thackeray, and Baudelaire are the other titans who gave Maturin their unqualified admiration, and there is much significance in the fact that Oscar Wilde, after his disgrace and exile, chose for his last days in Paris the assumed name of "Sebastian Melmoth"."--"Supernatural Horror in Literature" (1927) by H. P. Lovecraft

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Charles Maturin (1782 - 1824) was an Irish writer known for Melmoth the Wanderer (1820).



Descended from a Huguenot family.

Maturin died in Dublin on 30 October 1824, after which rumours (none of them confirmed or proven) circulated that he had committed suicide. Honoré de Balzac and Charles Baudelaire later expressed fondness for Maturin's work, particularly his most famous novel, Melmoth the Wanderer.


His first three works were published under the pseudonym Dennis Jasper Murphy and were critical and commercial failures. They did, however, catch the attention of Sir Walter Scott, who recommended Maturin's work to Lord Byron. With the help of these two literary luminaries, the curate's play, Bertram (staged at Drury Lane for 22 nights) saw a wider audience and became a success. Financial success, however, eluded Maturin, as the play's run coincided with his father's unemployment and another relative's bankruptcy, both of them assisted by the fledgling writer. To make matters worse, Samuel Taylor Coleridge publicly denounced the play as dull and loathsome, and "melancholy proof of the depravation of the public mind," going nearly so far as to decry it as atheistic. The Church of Ireland took note of these and earlier criticisms and, having discovered the identity of Bertram's author (Maturin had shed his nom de plume to collect the profits from the play), subsequently barred Maturin's further clerical advancement. Forced to support his wife and four children by writing (his salary as curate was £80-90 per annum, compared to the £1000 he made for Bertram), he switched back from playwright to novelist after a string of his plays met with failure.

Known Works



  • Bertram; or The Castle of St. Aldobrand (1816)
  • Manuel (1817)
  • Fredolfo (1819)
  • Osmyn the Renegade (published posthumously in 1830, but in rehearsal at Covent Garden in 1822)


  • The Universe (1821)


  • Sermons (1819)
  • Five Sermons on the Errors of the Roman Catholic Church (1824)

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