Charles Molloy Westmacott

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Charles Molloy Westmacott (c. 1788 - 1868) was a British journalist and author, editor of The Age, the leading Sunday newspaper of the early 1830s. He sometimes wrote under the pseudonym Bernard Blackmantle.

Life[edit]

Born in 1787 or 1788, Westmacott claimed to be the illegitimate son of the sculptor Richard Westmacott (the elder), although his political enemies claimed he was the son of a chimney sweep from Drury Lane. His mother was Susan Molloy, a husbandless widow, who ran a tavern "The Bull and Horns" in Fulham, London.[1]

He was educated at St Paul's School and Oxford University then went to study sculpture at the Royal Academy. In 1827 he became editor of The Age, a Sunday newspaper which had started in 1825 and which specialized in scurrilous and satirical gossip about celebrities of the day.[2]

Westmacott was savagely portrayed as the unprincipled gossip-monger 'Sneak' in Edward Bulwer's England and the English, and has been dubbed "the principal blackmailing editor of his day".[3] While he did accept money to suppress publication of stories, this was legal until the 1843 Libel Act, and a recent treatment has argued that these practices were "incidental rather than central to the Age."[2]

His best known book was "The English Spy". Because of his connections to the art world the book was illustrated by top artists of the day: Robert Cruikshank and Thomas Rowlandson.[4] He was also the editor of the journal "Records of the Fine Arts".

He exhibited at least one work at the Royal Academy, London: a bust of John Philip Kemble (1822).

In the 1840s Westmacott moved to Paris, where he died in 1868.[1]

A portrait of Westmacott by Daniel Maclise is held by the National Portrait Gallery, London.[5]

Works[edit]

  • (as Bernard Blackmantle) Fitzalleyne of Berkeley a romance of the present times, 1825
  • (as Bernard Blackmantle) The English spy, an original work, characteristic, satirical, and humorous, comprising scenes and sketches in every rank of society... drawn from the life by Bernard Blackmantle, 1825/26. Illustrated by Robert Cruickshank. Republished in 2 vols., 1907.
  • The stamp duties: serious considerations on the proposed alteration of the stamp duty on newspapers, 1836

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660-1851, Rupert Gunnis
  2. ^ a b David E. Latané, 'Charles Molloy Westmacott and the Spirit of the Age, Victorian Periodicals Review, 40: 1 (2007), pp. 44-71
  3. ^ Michael Sadleir, The Strange Life of Lady Blessington, 1933, p.124.
  4. ^ http://lesleyannemcleod.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/charles-molloy-westmacott-virulent.html
  5. ^ http://www.npgprints.com/image.php?imgref=42254

External links[edit]