Mayhew, Henry (DNB00)

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MAYHEW, HENRY (1812–1887), author, was the son of Joshua Dorset Joseph Mayhew, a London attorney, and was born in 1812. He was educated at Westminster School, though not on the foundation (see F. H. Forshall, Westminster School, p. 329), but ran away under some sense of ill-usage, and, going to sea, made the voyage to Calcutta. On his return he was articled to his father for three years, but soon abandoned law for literature. His first venture was the publication, along with Gilbert a Beckett, of 'Figaro in London,' a weekly periodical, (1831-39), and in 1832 he started 'The Thief,' the earliest of the great crowd of paste-and-scissors journals. He began his career as a dramatist with 'The Wandering Minstrel,' at the Royal Fitzroy Theatre, 16 Jan. 1834, a one-act farce, in which was introduced the well-known cockney song, 'Yillikins and his Dinah.' In 1838 his farce 'But However,' written in collaboration with Henry Baylis, and dedicated to Benjamin Wrench, was produced at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, 30 Oct. Contrary to general belief, he did not collaborate with his brother Horace [q. v.], but, along with his brother Augustus Septimus [q. v.], he wrote in 1847 'The Greatest Plague of Life,' and a fairy tale, 'The Good Genius; in 1850, 'The Image of his Father' and 'Acting Charades;' and in 1870, 'Ephemerides, or the Comic Almanack;' and with Athol Mayhew he wrote a three-act comedy 'Mont Blanc,' adapted from Labiche and Martin's 'Voyage de M. Perrichon.' He is, however, best known as one of the originators and for a short time joint editor of 'Punch,' in 1841, and as the first to strike out the line of philanthropic journalism which takes the poor of London as its theme. His principal work, in which he was assisted by John Binny and others, was 'London Labour and London Poor,' a series of articles, anecdotic and statistical, on the petty trades of London, originally appearing in the 'Morning Chronicle.' Two volumes were published in 1851, but their circulation was interrupted by litigation in chancery, and was long suspended, but in March 1856 Mayhew announced its resumption, and a continuation of it appeared in serial monthly parts as 1 The Great World of London,' which was ultimately completed and published as 'The Criminal Prisons of London,' in 1862. The last portion of it was by Binny. 'London Labour and the London Poor' appeared in its final form in 1864, and again in 1865, and he published in the same year 'Shops and Companies of London,' and contributed to a work of a similar kind, 'London Characters,' in 1874.

Mayhew had meanwhile spent some years abroad, and had written 'The Rhine' in 1856, and 'The Upper Rhine' in 1858. In 1862 he resided in Germany, principally in Eisenach and Jena. This visit sprang from his desire to make inquiries into the early life of Martin Luther. It resulted in a work in two volumes, full of detailed and practical information on 'German Life and Manners in Saxony' in 1864, and 'The Boyhood of Martin Luther' in 1865. His minor works were : 'What to Teach and How to Teach it,' 1842, 'The Prince of Wales's Library the Primer,' 1844; both intended as parts of educational series, and both discontinued forthwith; two humorous stories, 'Whom to Marry,' 1848, and 'The Magic of Kindness,' 1849; 'Adventures of the Sandboys Family,' 1851; 'The Mormons,' 1852; 'The Peasant Boy Philosopher,' 1854; 'Living for Appearances,' and 'The Wonders of Science,' 1855. He was also the author of the words of Jonathan Blewitt's song, 'My Wife is a Woman of Mind,' published in 1849. In his later years he wrote 'Young B. Franklin,' 1870, started a shortlived periodical, 'Only once a Year,' at the same time, and in 1871 prepared a report on working men's clubs. He died at Charlotte Street, Bloomsbury, on 25 July 1887, and was buried at Kensal Green.

[Athenæum, 6 Aug. 1887; Times, 27 July 1887; Scott's Life of E. Laman Blanchard, p. 608; Fox Bourne's English Newspapers ii. 117-20, 15o,238; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

J. A. H.