Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Reid, Mayne

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655099Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 47 — Reid, Mayne1896George Thorn-Drury

REID, MAYNE, whose name was originally Thomas Mayne Reid (1818–1883), novelist, the eldest son of the Rev. Thomas Mayne Reid, a presbyterian minister, was born at Ballyroney, co. Down, on 4 April 1818. His mother was a descendant of the ‘hot and hasty Rutherford’ of ‘Marmion.’ Mayne Reid was educated with a view to the ministry of the presbyterian church, but, finding his inclinations opposed to this calling, he emigrated to America, and arrived at New Orleans in January 1840. After a varied career as ‘store-keeper,’ negro-overseer, schoolmaster, and actor, with occasional experiences of hunting expeditions and Indian warfare, he settled down in 1843 as a journalist in Philadelphia, where he made the acquaintance of Edgar Allan Poe. Leaving Philadelphia in 1846, he spent the summer at Newport, Rhode Island, as the correspondent of the ‘New York Herald;’ he was engaged in September upon Wilkes's ‘Spirit of the Times,’ and in December, having obtained a commission as second lieutenant in the 1st New York volunteers, he sailed for Vera Cruz to take part in the Mexican war. He behaved with conspicuous gallantry in various engagements, and particularly distinguished himself at the storming of Chapultepec (13 Sept. 1847), where he was severely wounded, and afterwards reported dead.

Returning to the United States in the spring of 1848, he wrote the greater part of the first of his novels, ‘The Rifle Rangers,’ at the house of his friend Donn Piatt, in the valley of Mac-o-Chee, Ohio.

In June 1849 he sailed for Europe in order to take part in the revolutionary movements in Bavaria and Hungary, but, arriving too late, he turned his attention finally to literature, and published his first novel, ‘The Rifle Rangers,’ London, 1850, 2 vols.

Between this date and his death he produced a long series of romances, of which no one else could have been the author, for in them are avowedly embodied the observation and experiences of his own extraordinary career. Unfortunate building speculations at Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire, involved him in disaster, and after the failure of ‘The Little Times,’ a journalistic experiment, he returned in October 1867 to New York. There he founded, and for some time conducted, ‘The Onward Magazine;’ but after being confined in hospital, where his life was despaired of, from the effects of his old wound, he returned to England in 1870. During the last years of his life he resided near Ross, Herefordshire, and died on 22 Oct. 1883. He was buried in Kensal Green cemetery.

Mayne Reid married Elizabeth, only daughter of George William Hyde, who claimed relationship with the family of the first Earl of Clarendon. A carbon portrait of the novelist became the property of Mrs. Mayne Reid (Victorian Exhib. Cat. p. 128).

The following is a list of Mayne Reid's principal novels: 1. ‘The Rifle Rangers,’ 1850. 2. ‘The Scalp Hunters,’ * 1851. 3. ‘The Desert Home,’ * 1851. 4. ‘The Boy Hunters,’ 1852. 5. ‘The Young Voyageurs,’ * 1853. 6. ‘The Hunter's Feast,’ * 1854. 7. ‘The Forest Exiles,’ 1854. 8. ‘The Bush Boys,’ 1855. 9. ‘The Quadroons,’ * 1856. 10. ‘The Young Yägers,’ 1856. 11. ‘The War Trail,’ * 1857. 12. ‘The Plant Hunters,’ * 1858. 13. ‘Ran away to Sea,’ 1858. 14. ‘The Boy Tar,’ * 1859. 15. ‘The White Chief,’ 1859. 16. ‘The Wild Huntress,’ * 1860. 17. ‘The Wood Rangers,’ 1861. 18. ‘The Maroon,’ 1862. 19. ‘The White Gauntlet,’ 1863. 20. ‘The Ocean Waifs,’ 1864. 21. ‘The Cliff Climbers,’ * 1864. 22. ‘Afloat in the Forest,’ * 1865. 23. ‘The Boy Slaves,’ * 1865. 24. ‘The Bandolero, or the Mountain Marriage,’ 1866. 25. ‘The Headless Horseman,’ 1866. 26. ‘The Finger of Fate,’ * 1868. 27. ‘The Child Wife,’ 1868. 28. ‘The Castaways,’ * 1870. 29. ‘The Ocean Waifs,’ * 1871. 30. ‘The Death Shot,’ 1874. 31. ‘The Flag of Distress,’ 1875. 32. ‘The Vee Boers,’ * 1880. 33. ‘Gaspar the Gaucho,’ * 1880. 34. ‘The Free Lances,’ 1881 (those marked * have been translated into French, and many have also been translated into German). Mayne Reid also wrote stories of natural history for boys and a treatise on ‘Croquet’ (1863).

[Memoir by his Widow, 1890; M. Q. Holyoake, Strand Magazine, July 1891.]

G. T. D.