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Mark Lemon

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Published : 6 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : 30/11/1809
Death : 23/5/1870
Views : 1833

Playwright and journalist. Attended a school in Cheam, Surrey. Learned hop business from his uncle; for a time manager of a brewery, Kentish Town. Early began sending verses and tales to periodicals. In 1836 began career as playwright. Author of some seventy dramas, farces, operettas, extravaganzas, and other pieces for the stage; also of songs, fairy tales, novels, and a jest book; but remembered almost solely as "Mark Lemon of Punch". One of the co-founders of the periodical, 1841; at first joint editor, thereafter sole editor until his death. Connected as editor and contributor also with other periodicals, e.g., London Journal, Once a Week, Illustrated London News.


Lemon was much disliked by some of his contemporaries and much liked by others. Among the latter was Dickens, who thought him a "most affectionate and true-hearted fellow" (to A. H. Layard, April 3 1855). The two men—and also their families—were often together. Lemon dedicated The Enchanted Doll to Dickens's daughters Mary and Kate. He took part in many of the children's theatricals staged by Dickens and also in the plays staged for private and public presentation. Among these was Lemon's Mr. Nightingale's Diary, to the text of which Dickens added so much that the farce became in effect a joint work. Lemon dramatized The Haunted Man and collaborated with Gilbert à Beckett in dramatizing The Chimes. In his poem "'The Cricket on the Hearth'. A Fairy Tale of Home", he paid tribute to another of Dickens's Christmas books. Lemon was among the first writers who agreed to serve on the Daily News under Dickens's editorship (McCarthy and Robinson, The "Daily News" Jubilee, p. 4).

In a letter to Lemon, April 26 1855, Dickens wrote of Lemon's kindness to him on the death of his child Dora: " ... I have not forgotten (and never shall forget) who sat up with me one night when a little place in my house was left empty". The remembered kindness did not prevent Dickens's bitter quarrel with his friend—a quarrel occasioned by the refusal of Lemon and the publishers of Punch to insert in that periodical Dickens's statement concerning his separation from his wife. Dickens's nine-year estrangement with Lemon was ended only by the death-bed plea of Clarkson Stanfield.

In H.W., reference to "Mr. Mark Lemon's ingenious Adelphi drama, Sea and Land", appeared in Fitzgerald's "Down among the Dutchmen" (April 10 1858).

The title of the book in which Lemon reprinted two of his H.W. contributions was a misnomer, said Douglas Jerrold, it should have read not Prose and Verse but Prose and Worse (Mackay, Forty Years' Recollections, II, 305-306).

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


Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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