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Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Dunphie, Charles James

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DUNPHIE, CHARLES JAMES (1820–1908), art critic and essayist, born at Rathdowney on 4 Nov. 1820, was elder son of Michael Dunphy of Rathdowney House, Rathdowney, Queen's County, Ireland, and of Fleet Street, Dublin, merchant, by his wife Kate Woodroffe. His younger brother, Henry Michael Dunphy (d. 1889), who retained the early spelling of the name, was called to the bar at the Middle Temple on 26 Jan. 1861, but became a journalist and critic, being for many years chief of the 'Morning Post's' reporting staff in the House of Commons. Charles Dunphie was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Coming to London, he studied medicine at King's College Hospital, where he was a favourite pupil of Sir William Fergusson, but soon took to literature and journalism. For some years he was on 'The Times' staff, and when the Crimean war broke out in 1853 he was offered (according to family tradition) the post of its special correspondent. But having lately married he persuaded his colleague and countryman, (Sir) William Howard Russell [q. v. Suppl. II], to go in his stead.

During the war he was one of the founders of the 'Patriotic Fund Journal' (1854-55), a weekly miscellany of general literature, to which he contributed prose and verse under the pseudonym of 'Melopoyn,' the profits being devoted to the Patriotic Fund. In 1856 he left 'The Times' to become art and dramatic critic to the 'Morning Post.' Those offices he continued to combine till 1895. From that date until near his death he only wrote in the paper on art. He thus spent over fifty years in the service of the 'Morning Post.' As a dramatic critic he belonged to the school of John Oxenford and E. L. Blanchard. His knowledge of art was wide and he had much literary power. A graceful writer of Latin, Greek, and English verse, and a semi-cynical essayist, Dunphie had something of the metrical dexterity of Father Prout and the egotistic fluency of Leigh Hunt. While serving the 'Morning Post' he contributed poems to 'Cornhill' and 'Belgravia,' and wrote essays for the 'Observer' (signed Rambler') and the 'Sunday Times.' Collected volumes of his essays appeared under the titles: 'Wildfire: a Collection of Erratic Essays' (1876), 'Sweet Sleep' (1879), 'The Chameleon: Fugitive Fancies on Many-Coloured Matters' (1888). In 'Freelance: Tiltings in many Lists' (1880) he collaborated with Albert King. Of handsome presence and polished manners, Dunphie died at his house, 54 Finchley Road, on 7 July 1908, and was buried at Putney Vale cemetery. He married on 31 March 1853 Jane, daughter of Luke Miller, governor of Ilford gaol. Besides two sons, he left a daughter, Agnes Anne, wife of Sir George Anderson Critchett, first baronet.

[Private information; Foster's Men at the Bar, 1885; The Times, and Morning Post, 10 July 1908.]

A. F. S.