Tom Taylor (1817-80)

English playwright, critic, journalist, biographer and public servant, born into a wealthy family on 19 October 1817 in Bishopwearmouth, Durham. After attending school there, Taylor proceeded to the University of Glasgow in 1832, and entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1837. He moved to London in 1844, where he served as a professor of English Literature at the University of London for two years, 1845 and 1846, while keeping his terms at the Inner Temple.

As a journalist, Taylor wrote lead articles for the Morning Chronicle and the Daily News, and made contributions to Punchfrom 1844 until 1874, when he succeeded Shirley Brooks as editor. He was also an art critic for The Times and The Graphic, and published biographies of painters such as B. R. Haydon, C. R. Leslie and Joshua Reynolds.

Furthermore, in his early years Taylor had shown a strong preference for theatre and performed in plays. In 1842, Taylor, together with Frederick Ponsonby and Charles Taylor, founded the Old Stagers, which is recognized as the oldest surviving amateur dramatic company. In 1844, the Lyceum Theatre staged four of Taylor’s burlesques, and a comedy To Parents and Guardians (1846) became his first major success. Taylor produced about 100 plays during his career, including collaborations with other playwrights, and adaptations from the French or novels of Charles Dickens and others. The most notable include Masks and Faces written with Reade (1852), Plot and Passion (1853), Our American Cousin (1858), andThe Ticket-of-Leave Man (1863). In later years he wrote many historical dramas, too. (N. M.)

1.Ballad of the Judge and the Master