William Maginn
William Maginn journalist
A journalist collects and distributes news and other information. A journalist's work is referred to as journalism.A reporter is a type of journalist who researchs, writes, and reports on information to be presented in mass media, including print media , electronic media , and digital media A...

 and miscellaneous writer, born at Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

, became a contributor to Blackwood's Magazine
Blackwood's Magazine
Blackwood's Magazine was a British magazine and miscellany printed between 1817 and 1980. It was founded by the publisher William Blackwood and was originally called the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine. The first number appeared in April 1817 under the editorship of Thomas Pringle and James Cleghorn...

, and after moving to London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1824 became for a few months in 1826 the Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 correspondent to The Representative
The Representative
The Representative was a spectacularly unsuccessful daily newspaper published in London, England, from 25 January 1826 to 29 July 1826.In autumn 1825 the young Benjamin Disraeli convinced his father's friend, the publisher John Murray, that the time was ripe for a Canningite morning paper that...

, a paper started by John Murray, the publisher. When its short career was run, he helped to found in 1827 the ultra Tory
Toryism is a traditionalist and conservative political philosophy which grew out of the Cavalier faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It is a prominent ideology in the politics of the United Kingdom, but also features in parts of The Commonwealth, particularly in Canada...

 Standard, a newspaper that he edited along with a fellow graduate of Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin , formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, was founded in 1592 by letters patent from Queen Elizabeth I as the "mother of a university", Extracts from Letters Patent of Elizabeth I, 1592: "...we...found and...

, Stanley Lees Giffard
Stanley Lees Giffard
Stanley Lees Giffard was founder and first editor of a London newspaper, The Standard.Stanley Lees Giffard was brought up in Ireland, the son of John Giffard and Sarah Morton of Dromartin Castle...

; he also wrote for the more scandalous Sunday paper, The Age. In 1830 he instigated and became one of the leading supporters of Fraser's Magazine
Fraser's Magazine
Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country was a general and literary journal published in London from 1830 to 1882, which initially took a strong Tory line in politics. It was founded by Hugh Fraser and William Maginn in 1830 and loosely directed by Maginn under the name Oliver Yorke until about 1840...

. His Homeric Ballads, much praised by contemporary critics, were published in Fraser's between 1839 and 1842. In 1837, Bentley's Miscellany was launched, with Charles Dickens as editor, and Maginn wrote the prologue and contributed over the next several years a series of "Shakespeare Papers" that examined characters in counter-intuitive fashion(e.g., the key to Falstaff is his melancholy). From "The Man in the Bell" (Blackwood's, 1821) through "Welch Rabbits" (Bentley's, 1842) he was an occasional though skillful writer of short fiction and tales.

In 1836, he fought a duel with Grantley Berkeley, a member of Parliament. Three rounds of shots were fired, but no one was struck. Berkeley had brutally assaulted magazine publisher James Fraser over a review Maginn wrote of Berkeley's novel Berkeley Castle, and Maginn had called him out.

One of the most brilliant periodical writers of his time, Maginn left little permanent work behind him. In his later years, 1842, his intemperate habits landed him in debtor's prison
Debtor's prison
A debtors' prison is a prison for those who are unable to pay a debt.Prior to the mid 19th century debtors' prisons were a common way to deal with unpaid debt.-Debt bondage in ancient Greece and Rome:...

, and when he emerged through the grace of the Insolvent Debtor's Act he was in an advanced stage of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

. He wrote until the end, including in the first volume of Punch
Punch (magazine)
Punch, or the London Charivari was a British weekly magazine of humour and satire established in 1841 by Henry Mayhew and engraver Ebenezer Landells. Historically, it was most influential in the 1840s and 50s, when it helped to coin the term "cartoon" in its modern sense as a humorous illustration...

, but he died in extreme poverty in Walton-on-Thames
Walton-on-Thames is a town in the Elmbridge borough of Surrey in South East England. The town is located south west of Charing Cross and is between the towns of Weybridge and Molesey. It is situated on the River Thames between Sunbury Lock and Shepperton Lock.- History :The name "Walton" is...

 in August 1842, survived by his wife Ellen, and daughters Annie and Ellen, and son John.


  • The Shakespeare Papers; R. Bentley, 1859 (reissued by Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press
    Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house, and the second largest university press in the world...

    , 2009; ISBN 9781108000246)
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