Joseph Sheridan LeFanu

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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LeFanu, Joseph Sheridan, poet and novelist, eldest son of Thomas P. LeFanu, Dean of Emly, and grandson of Alicia LeFanu, was born in Dublin, 28th August 1814. He early showed literary abilities, took honours in Trinity College, Dublin, was called to the Bar, and in 1838 bought the Warder, a Dublin newspaper, of which he had previously been editor. He had already contributed some humorous stories to the University Magazine, and had written two admirable pieces of ballad poetry — "Patrick Crohore," and "Shamus O'Brien." The latter was some years later introduced to the notice of the American public, with whom it first became popular, by Samuel Lover. Mr. LeFanu was ever a staunch Conservative. To the Warder he afterwards added by purchase the Evening Packet; and investing in half the proprietorship of the Evening Mail, the three papers became amalgamated in one as a daily paper, with the Warder as a weekly reprint. His literary responsibilities were increased by the purchase of the Dublin University Magazine, about 1869.

After the death of his wife in 1858 he retired almost entirely from Dublin society, of which he had been one of the brightest ornaments. Besides numerous poems, stories and sketches, he was the author of several novels, characterized by wonderful power over the mysterious, the grotesque, and the horrible. The Cock and Anchor, a chronicle of old Dublin, appeared about 1850; The House by the Churchyard in 1863; soon followed by Uncle Silas, and five other well-known novels. Shortly after completing his last, Willing to Die, he died at his residence, 18 Merrion-square South, 7th February 1873, aged 58. He was buried at Mount Jerome Cemetery. Most of these particulars are taken from an appreciative article in Temple Bar for August 1877, and a short notice in the Dublin University Magazine shortly after his death. The writer of the latter says: "He was a man who thought deeply, especially on religious subjects. To those who knew him he was very dear. They admired him for his learning, his sparkling wit, and pleasant conversation, and loved him for his manly virtues, for his noble and generous qualities, his gentleness, and his loving, affectionate nature."

Sources

166. Huguenots in England and Ireland: Samuel Smiles. London, 1867.

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

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