Image of Herman Charles Merivale


Lifetime: 1839 - 1906 Passed: ≈ 117 years ago




United States

Herman Charles Merivale

Herman Charles Merivale was an English dramatist and poet, son of Herman Merivale. He also used the punning pseudonym Felix Dale.

Herman Charles Merivale was born in London on 27 January 1839, the only son of Herman Merivale a barrister and civil servant who was permanent under-secretary of the India Office, and his wife, Caroline Penelope née Robinson daughter of the Revd William Villiers Robinson. Merivale was educated at Harrow School and Balliol College, Oxford, where Algernon Charles Swinburne and Charles Bowen were his contemporaries. He graduated BA in 1861. At his father's home he met many distinguished men, including Lord Robert Cecil who became a lifelong friend. His friends in literary and dramatic circles included William Makepeace Thackeray, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Matthew Arnold, Anthony Trollope, W. S. Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan, Edmund Yates, Charles Dickens and others.

Following his father's death in 1874 he gave up the law in favour of literature and the theatre. Merivale wrote many farces and burlesques. For John Hollingshead he produced a burlesque, The Lady of Lyons Married and Settled, performed at the Gaiety Theatre and Called There and Back . The Butler  and The Don were both written for the actor J. L. Toole. In writing The Don, and other works, Merivale was assisted by his wife, Elizabeth, the daughter of John Pittman, whom he married in London on 13 May 1878.

During the 1870s, he was a resident of Ticehurst House Hospital after suffering depression for many years following a breakdown. He wrote of his experiences there in a book called My Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum by a Sane Patient. In 1879 he went to Australia on the advice of his physician, and then returned with his health recovered, only to discover that the power of attorney he had left with a defaulting solicitor had cost him his entire fortune.

A few years before his death Merivale became a Roman Catholic. He died suddenly of heart failure on 14 January 1906 at 69 Woodstock Road, Acton, Middlesex, and was buried in his father's grave in Brompton Cemetery. He had no children and his widow was granted a civil-list pension of £50 in 1906.

Books by Herman Charles Merivale

My Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum  Cover image

My Experiences in a Lunatic Asylum

History Prison Life Hope England Experiences Horror

It's a very interesting story from a man broken by an absurd system trying to recount what happened to him in order to at least come to terms with it himself... if not maybe get people to start talking about reforming it.