M. J. Whitty

CriticismCommentary


Life
1795-1873 [usu. as Michael James Whitty; pseuds. J. B. Whitty; Rory O’Rourke; W, Geoffrey K—n; also ‘O’Sullivan Bear’]; b. Nicharee, Duncormick, Co. Wexford; son of a maltster and shipowner; worked as journalist in London; issued Tales of Irish Life, 2 vols. (1822-24), ill. by George Cruikshank and published anonymously with enormous success; trans into French and German (Irländische Erzählungen, Breslau: Manz 1826);
 
ed. Dublin and London Magazine (1824-July 1828) [var. 1825], fostering Thomas Furlong [q.v.] and others; contributed his own poetry, 1825-27; edited Captain Rock in London, or The Chieftain’s Gazette (1825-27); moved to Liverpool, 1828, and there edited The Liverpool Journal, the earliest penny journal; appt. Chief Constable of Liverpool, and organised first police force there, 1836;
 
also established a fire brigade; became proprietor of fnd. Liverpool Daily Post, a penny paper and the first issued for many years; sold both papers, 1869; d. 10 June; a son, E. M. Whitty also wrote; a granddg. acted in London; personal friend and literary adviser of Furlong, on whom he wrote several obituary notices in 1827. PI IF DIB2 RAF MKA

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Works
[Anon.,] Tales of Irish Life, Illustrative of the Manners, Customs, and Condition of the People. With Designs by George Cruikshank (London: J. Robins and Co. 1822-24), 2 vols. (1822-24) [Cohn 841]; Captain Rock in London; or, The Chieftain's Gazette, Vol. 1 (1825) [see note, infra]; also Robert Emmet (Fraser 1870).

Criticism
See Kevin Whelan, The Tree of Liberty (Field Day 1996), pp.2-3.

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References
D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912): Whitty is said by O’Donoghue to have been ‘intended for priest’, but this actually refers to his brother, as shown by Sean Mythen (UUC PhD dissertation [draft], 1999]. O’Donoghue lists Tales of Irish Life (1822- ) with ill. by [George] Cruikshank. Whitty edited The London and Dublin Magazine at its foundation, later ed. The Liverpool Journal. Poems in the Dublin and London Magazine.

Loeber (W69): Michael James Whitty (1795 - 1873), newspaper editor and proprietor, native of Enniscorthy, Co Wexford, commenced his literary career in London, and among his earliest friends were Sir James Bacon and George Cruikshank. He was appointed editor of the London and Dublin Magazine in 1823. From 1823 to 1829 he contributed largely to Irish periodical literature, and was an ardent advocate of Catholic emancipation. He published anonymously in 1824 two volumes of Tales of Irish Life Stories [which] depict the customs and condition of the people of his homeland, and were a great success, being reprinted in America and also translated into French and German. (Copied from David Brass Rare Books, NY - online; accessed 25.10.2020; copy bound by Wood of London, ca.1910, priced at $2,250.00].

Cohn [quoted here by David Brass]: ‘[...] J. Robins, as successor to [Cruikshank publishers] Hone and Baldwin published many of Cruikshank’s most important plates ... In the same issue [of the Dublin and London Magazine] the plates for Tales of Irish Life were judged... “superior to any thing that celebrated artist has ever yet done.”’

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction [Pt. I] (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), cites a work on Robert Emmet (unnamed); also Tales of Irish Life (1824), intended to ‘disabuse the public’; translated into German.

Brian McKenna, Irish Literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978), claims that Irish peasant life as a subject for fiction was introduced by Whitty in Tales of Irish Life (1824); lists Robert Emmet ... (Fraser 1870). Bibl., John Hennig, in Irish Bookman (Feb. 1947). In a letter to R. R. Madden, rep. in Micheal Toíbín, The Past (No. 7, 1964), transcribing Whitty’s correspondence with Madden as providing information about his own life. Brian McKenna (p.xiv.)

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), b. Wexford’; journalist with Dublin and London Magazine, and later Liverpool papers; commanded the police force on the River Mersey. Used pseud. ‘Rory O’Rourke’ in Dublin and London; wrote ‘R. Emmet and His Contemporaries’, ‘The Whiteboy’; ‘The Orangeman,’ and other titles, of which Robert Emmet was reprinted from the Dublin and London Magazine in 1870. Note that Rafroidi follows O’Donoghue in reporting that he was ‘intended for the priesthood’, whereas it as his brother who was so intended.

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Notes
Robert Emmet (Fraser 1870), reprinted from the Dublin and London Magazine, partakes of the spirit of folklore but was mistaken by R. R. Madden for historical account of the transactions of the period. (See Sean Mythen, PHD diss., UUC 1999 [draft].)

The March of Intellect”, a ballad erroneously attributed by Colm O’Lochlainn to Oliver Goldsmith [see under Goldsmith, Notes, supra] is printed in Captain Rock in London, or, The Chieftain's Gazette, No. 42 (Sat. Dec. 17 1825), bound as Vol. 1, p.334. The ballad occurs in a dialogue appearing under the caption Noctes Lambourniae, No IV, where a certain McGin., a hack sub-editor of the New Times, and The Medical Adviser is asked by one O’Kavanagh: ‘Anything new in your Blackwood this month?’, to which he answers: ‘Very little. Just the song with Tickler sings is mine.’ He then sings “The March of Intellect” in all its verses. [Available online - accessed 07.03.2011.]

Madden Papers, Gilbert Collection, Pearse St. Library (Gilbert MS 281): Envelope entitled ‘The Dail Post (Liverpool)’, contains 2 Letters (14.05.1868), and (17.07.1868), in Whitty’s nearly illegible handwriting to Madden concerning loan of books for Mr. Kennedy; the latter dated 17 July 1868 reads: ‘Dear [?], I [?] claim that [?] this friendly introduction from the fact that you have not had a greater admirer or one more familiar with your works than I am and I now need to enlist interest [?] your [?help] / I was editor of the Dublin and London Magazine and I was author or Robert Emmett to whose memory you have so much? / When I came to London (?) I brought with me copies of the magazine but unfortunately they were stolen from this office. In the hope of getting other copies I called on my friend M. Kennedy and from him I learned that you had the volumes I wanted. I then called at your office but you were not in town that day. If you would lend me the volumes I would deem it a great favour and would take great care of them and return them promptly and would gladly give [?] you the information [?] you asked for. / As the superstitions and legends of Ireland in them were written by me I am very des[ir]ous publish them in a volume with notes, they have been reprinted [?] times in [? ?] by sharp publishers but incorrectly and as for M. Wilde then agreement [?] for the author [?] that they were the best ever published I am [?] of [?] them correctly. I am your servant. M. J. Whitty.’ [Supplied by Sean Mythen, Jan. 1997].

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