Henry Mayhew

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Henry Mayhew (25 November 1812 - 25 July 1887) was an English social researcher, journalist, playwright and advocate of reform[citation needed]. He was one of the two founders (1841) of the satirical and humorous magazine Punch, and the magazine's joint-editor, with Mark Lemon, in its early days. He is better known, however, for his work as a social researcher, publishing an extensive series of newspaper articles in the Morning Chronicle, later compiled into the book series London Labour and the London Poor (1851), a groundbreaking and influential survey of the poor of London.



Early life

He was born in London, one of seventeen children of Joshua Mayhew. He was educated at Westminster School before running away from his studies to sea.[1] He then served with the East India Company as a midshipman on a ship bound for Calcutta. He returned after several years, in 1829, becoming a trainee lawyer in Wales.[2] He left this and became a freelance journalist. He contributed to The Thief, a readers' digest, followed quickly by writing a play - Figaro in London in 1829. Along with continuing to develop his writing, Mayhew briefly managed the Queen's Theatre.[3] Mayhew reputedly fled his creditors and holed up at The Erwood Inn, a small public house in the village of Erwood, south of Builth Wells.

Paris and writing

In 1835 Mayhew found himself in a state of debt and along with a fellow writer, they escaped to Paris to avoid their creditors.[2] He spent his time writing and in the company of other writers including William Thackeray and Douglas Jerrold. Mayhew spent over ten years in Paris returning to England in the 1850s whereby he was involved in several literary adventures, mostly the writing of plays. Two of his plays - But, However and the Wandering Minstrel were successful, whilst his early work Figaro in London was less successful.[4]

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