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Charles James Lever

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Published : 49 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : 31/8/1806
Death : 1/6/1872
Views : 2744

Novelist. B.A. Trinity College, Dublin, 1827; M.B. 1831. Practised medicine. After 1845 lived on the Continent. Vice-consul at Spezia, 1858-1867; consul at Trieste, 1867 until his death. Contributed The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer (1837-1840) and many of his following novels to Dublin University Magazine; edited Dublin University Magazine, 1842-1845. Contributed to Blackwood's, Cornhill, St. Paul's Magazine, and other periodicals. Author of some thirty books. Hon. LL.D. Trinity College, 1871.


Dickens was annoyed by advertisements for Harry Lorrequer that quoted a reviewer as emphatically preferring that novel to Pickwick and Nickleby. Lever wrote to Dickens to repudiate the advertising tactics and to express his admiration of Dickens's writing (Stevenson, Dr. Quicksilver, pp. 95-96). The two men later became friends. Their association as periodical contributor and editor was entirely in connection with A.Y.R., except for the one item that Lever wrote for H.W.

During an early residence in Brussels, Lever had contributed to the Dublin University Magazine (1839) a series of sketches titled "Continental Gossipings". He had, at the time, written to the manager about continuing the series, bringing in "hints upon the Continent that only a residence suggests" (Stevenson, p. 66). The H.W. "Continental Ways and Means" is an article of that order. It discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of residence on the Continent, the information being based on the writer's "actual domestication" there, as distinguished from mere travel.

Lever contributed some short papers to A.Y.R., then entered into correspondence with Dickens concerning further contributions. Dickens wrote him a cordial letter, October 16 1859, welcoming whatever he might send: anything in the way of fiction, observation, reflection—"anything grave or gay about anything in the wide world"—would suit him. Dickens was enthusiastic about the first portion of A Day's Ride: A Life's Romance that Lever sent in response to the invitation. The novel had run less than two months, however, when Dickens decided that it was responsible for the declining circulation of A.Y.R. (to Lever, October 6, 1860); to offset this, he began the serialization (on December 1) of Great Expectations, which displaced A Day's Ride from lead position during the remaining months that Lever's novel continued. In his letters to Lever, Dickens took pains to state that he thought highly of A Day's Ride despite its lack of appeal to A.Y.R. readers and its unsuitability to serial publication; he would be greatly distressed, he wrote, if Lever discontinued writing for the periodical. Lever continued his contributions.

The novel A Rent in a Cloud, which appeared in A.Y.R. in 1864, is stated in the A.Y.R. "General Index", Vol. XX, to be by Lever. According to Notes & Queries, 7th series, VI (August 11 1868), it "is understood to have been the work of [Lever's] daughter."

Dickens acted as Lever's mediator with Chapman & Hall in negotiations for the book publication of A Day's Ride, and in other of Lever's dealings with the publishers. Lever, obviously in gratitude for the kindness, dedicated Barringion to Dickens, stating in the dedication his admiration of Dickens's genius. Later, in Cornelius O'Dowd upon Men and Women, 2nd series (p. 21), he wrote of Dickens as the "greatest imaginative writer, unquestionably, since Shakespeare". Comments in Lever's letters indicate, however, that his admiration of Dickens was by no means uncritical.

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

 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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