Gibbon, Charles (1843-1890) (DNB01)

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GIBBON, CHARLES (1843–1890), novelist, was born of humble parentage in the Isle of Man in 1843, and moved with his parents to Glasgow at an early age. After receiving an elementary education at Glasgow he became a clerk, but before the age of seventeen obtained an engagement on a local paper. During Charles Kean's visit to Glasgow in 1860, Gibbon contributed to his paper an account of Kean's acting. Kean was pleased, and, calling at the newspaper office, made Gibbon's acquaintance. A year or so later Gibbon migrated to London, publishing in 1864 a three-volume novel, 'Dangerous Connexions,' which reached a second edition in 1875. 'The Dead Heart' followed in 1865, and before his death Gibbon had published some thirty novels, the best of which were 'Robin Gray' (1869; other editions 1872 and 1877) and 'For Lack of Gold' (1871; other editions 1873 and 1877). Gibbon's Scottish novels have been compared with those of William Black [q. v. Suppl.], and though he possessed none of the qualities of a great novelist, his pictures of Scottish life were the result of personal knowledge, and not mere imitation. Gibbon also edited 'The Casquet of Literature' (6 vols. 1873-4), and wrote a tedious 'life' (2 vols. 1878) of George Combe [q. v.], in whose theories he was interested. Ill-health compelled him to spend his later years on the east coast, and he died at Great Yarmouth on 15 Aug. 1890. He was married and left issue.

[East Anglian Handbook, 1891, pp. 191,202; Annual Reg. 1890, p. 178; Athenæum, 1890, ii. 255; Times, 22 Aug. 1890; Gibbon's Works in Brit. Mus. Libr.; notes supplied by Mr. William Freeland of Glasgow.]

A. F. P.