The first ever biography of Dr Charles Lewis Meryon (1783–1877), born in Rye (Sussex), has been published. He was physician to Lady Hester Stanhope, the indomitable traveller and adventurer, and on various different occasions, companion on her travels to Malta, Greece, Turkey, Egypt and the Lebanon. While holding this post he met Lord Byron, the Pasha of Egypt, and famed Swiss traveller, geographer and orientalist Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, among many other characters and personalities.
He was shipwrecked, attacked by pirates and lost for several days in the desert, in addition to living through numerous other adventures. He was the father of tormented French artist Charles Meryon (the artist’s mother’s unrequited love for his father is told by means of their original correspondence). He was also author of the two three-volume sets The Memoirs of the Lady Hester Stanhope and The Travels of the Lady Hester Stanhope, as well as a translator – mastering various languages both ancient and modern – poet, and revolutionary politician in his home town of Rye. The biography also includes an edition of his poem ’Tis All My Eye and Betty Martin, of which only five copies were ever printed. The last remaining copy in the UK was destroyed in the bombing of London in the Second World War, and the work was believed to be lost for ever, but the last surviving copy was recently unearthed in Canada.
A Very Good Sort of Man is available now, price around £40.
Photo: Joshua Guscin