Poole, John (DNB00)

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POOLE, JOHN (1786?–1872), dramatist and miscellaneous writer, was born in 1786, or, according to some accounts, in 1787. His dedications to his printed works prove him to have held some social position, and his success as a dramatist was pronounced in early life. On 17 June 1813, for the benefit of Mr. and Mrs. Liston, he produced at Drury Lane ‘Hamlet Travestie,’ in two acts, in which Mathews was the original Hamlet, Mrs. Liston Gertrude, and Liston Ophelia. This, written originally in three acts, was printed in 1810, and frequently reprinted. ‘Intrigue,’ described as an interlude, followed at the same house on 26 March 1814, and was succeeded by ‘Who's Who, or the Double Imposture,’ on 15 Nov. 1815, a work earlier in date of composition. To Drury Lane he gave ‘Simpson & Co.,’ a comedy, on 4 Jan. 1823; ‘Deaf as a Post,’ a farce, on 15 Feb. 1823; ‘The Wealthy Widow, or They're both to blame,’ a comedy, on 29 Oct. 1827; ‘My Wife! What Wife?’ a farce, on 2 April 1829; ‘Past and Present,’ a farce, and ‘Turning the Tables,’ a farce. To Covent Garden, ‘A Short Reign and a Merry one,’ a comedy in two acts, from the French, on 19 Nov. 1819; ‘Two Pages of Frederick the Great,’ a comedy in two acts, from the French, on 1 Dec. 1821; ‘The Scape-Goat,’ a one-act adaptation of ‘Le Précepteur dans l'embarras,’ on 25 Nov. 1825; ‘Wife's Stratagem,’ an adaptation of Shirley's ‘Gamester,’ on 13 March 1827; and ‘More Frightened than Hurt.’ And to the Haymarket, ‘Match Making,’ a farce, on 25 Aug. 1821; ‘Married and Single,’ a comedy from the French, on 16 July 1824; ‘'Twould puzzle a Conjuror,’ a farce, on 11 Sept. 1824; ‘Tribulation, or Unwelcome Visitors,’ a comedy in two acts, on 3 May 1825; ‘Paul Pry,’ a comedy in three acts, on 13 Sept. 1825; ‘'Twixt the Cup and the Lip,’ a farce (Poole's greatest success), on 12 June 1826; ‘Gudgeons and Sharks,’ comic piece in two acts, on 28 July 1827; ‘Lodgings for Single Gentlemen,’ a farce, on 15 June 1829.

In these pieces Charles Kemble, Liston, William Farren, and other actors advanced their reputation. Most, but not all, of them were successful, and were transferred to various theatres. Genest almost invariably, while admitting the existence of some merit, says they were more successful than they deserved. Some of them remain unprinted, and others are included in the collections of Lacy, Duncombe, and Dick. Other pieces to be found in the same publications are ‘The Hole in the Wall,’ ‘A Soldier's Courtship,’ ‘Match Making,’ ‘Past and Present,’ ‘Patrician and Parvenu.’ Poole also published ‘Byzantium, a Dramatic Poem,’ 8vo; ‘Crotchets in the Air, or a Balloon Trip,’ 8vo; ‘Christmas Festivities;’ ‘Comic Miscellany;’ ‘Little Pedlington,’ 2 vols.; ‘Phineas Quiddy, or Sheer Industry,’ 3 vols.; ‘Sketches and Recollections,’ 2 vols.; ‘Village School improved, or Parish Education.’

In 1831 he was living at Windsor. For many years, near the middle of the century, Poole resided in Paris, and was constantly seen at the Comédie Française. He was appointed a brother of the Charterhouse, but, disliking the confinement, threw up the position. Afterwards, through the influence of Charles Dickens, he obtained a pension of 100l. a year, which he retained until his death. For the last twenty years of his life he dropped entirely out of recognition. He died at his residence in Highgate Road, Kentish Town, London, and was buried at Highgate cemetery on 10 Feb. 1872. He supplied in 1831 to the ‘New Monthly Magazine,’ to which he was during many years an active contributor, what purported to be ‘Notes for a Memoir.’ This, however, is deliberately and amusingly illusive. A portrait, prefixed to his ‘Sketches and Recollections’ (1835), shows a handsome, clear-cut, intelligent, and very gentlemanly face.

[Private information; Forster's Life of Dickens; Letters of Dickens; Genest's Account of the English Stage; Poole's Sketches and Recollections; Brit. Mus. Cat.; London Catalogue of Books; Allibone's Dictionary of Authors; Men of the Reign; Brewer's Readers' Handbook; Scott and Howard's Life of E. L. Blanchard; Biographical Dictionary of Living Authors, 1816; Daily Telegraph, 10 Feb. 1872; Era, 11 Feb. 1872; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. vi. 372.]

J. K.