Biography and History

Samuel Carter Hall was born on May 9, 1800, at the Geneva Barracks near Waterford, Ireland. The son of Robert Hall, a military officer, he spent much of his childhood in barracks and near battlefields. From youth, however, Samuel Hall was interested in the arts, enjoying theater and literature during trips to London. As a young man, Hall worked as a journalist and editor at numerous newspapers and literary magazines. These positions included reporting on Parliamentary debates for the British Press, for which Charles Dickens worked at the same time, and serving as sub-editor for the New Monthly Magazine, a famous literary journal. Hall worked many jobs simultaneously to make ends meet and suffered a brief nervous breakdown in 1830. He continued, however, to engage in a frenzied professional life until settling into a position in 1838 at The Art-Union.

During his time at The Art-Union, Hall reached his peak of influence, creativity, and impact. His leadership there helped to define the art world in an era of massive change, as old patronage systems collapsed and new artists had enormous difficulty being recognized. Hall helped to make the careers of numerous young British artists, as well as helping to direct the development of a new art scene. While Hall had enormous impact as an editor and writer, his reputation among Bohemians was not always favorable. Many artists were skeptical of his Puritanism and prudishness, so he often traveled only at the fringes of the important Bohemian social circles. Hall died on March 16, 1889, after a few years of quiet writing.

Mrs. Samuel Carter Hall (1800-1881), born Anna Maria Fielding, was an important writer in her own right, although many of her works were published under her husband’s name. During his years working for literary magazines, the couple regularly worked as a team, and distinguishing their writings can be very difficult. Her specialties, like Hall’s, were poetry and sub-romantic literature.

Source: From the finding aid for C0998