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Albert Richard Smith

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Albert Richard Smith

Albert Richard Smith
Albert Smith engraving from 1858
Born Albert Richard Smith
(1816-05-24)24 May 1816
Chertsey, Surrey, England
Died 23 May 1860(1860-05-23) (aged 43)
Fulham, London, England
Resting place Brompton Cemetery
Nationality English
Occupation Author, entertainer, mountaineer
Spouse(s) Mary Lucy Keeley (c. 1830–70)

Albert Richard Smith (24 May 1816 – 23 May 1860) was an English author, entertainer, and mountaineer.


  • Biography 1
    • Literary career 1.1
    • Travels and mountaineering 1.2
    • Family 1.3
  • Notes 2
  • References 3
  • Further reading 4
  • External links 5


Literary career

Smith was born at Chertsey, Surrey.[1] The son of a surgeon, he studied medicine in London and in Paris, and his first literary effort was an account of his life in Paris, which appeared in the Mirror.[2] He gradually abandoned his medical work in favour of writing. Though a journalist rather than a literary figure, he was one of the most popular writers of his time, and a favourite humorist. He was one of the early contributors to Punch 1842,[3] and was also a regular contributor to Richard Bentley's Miscellany, in whose pages his first and best book, the novel The Adventures of Mr Ledbury, appeared in 1842. His other novels were The Fortunes of the Scattergood Family (1845), The Marchioness of Brinvilliers: The Poisoner of the Seventeenrh Century (1846), The Struggles and Adventures of Christopher Tadpole (1848), and The Pottleton Legacy: A Story of Town and Country (1849). He also published a novella, The Adventures of Jack Holiday, with Something about His Sister (1844).

In 1842 Smith's first play, Blanche Heriot, or The Chertsey Curfew, based on a legend from his home town, was produced at the Surrey Theatre. In 1843 he published The Wassail-Bowl: A Comic Christmas Sketchbook, which included a short story on the same subject as his play of the year before, "Blanche Heriot: A Legend of Old Chertsey Church". He also wrote a series of so-called natural histories: The Gent (1847), The Ballet Girl (1847), 'Stuck-Up' People (1847), The Idler upon Town (1848) and The Flirt (1848). Smith wrote several extravaganzas for the Lyceum Theatre, including Aladdin (1844), Valentine and Orson (1844) and Whittington and His Cat (1845), and adapted for the same theatre Charles Dickens's The Cricket on the Hearth (1845) and The Battle of Life (1846). With Angus Bethune Reach he founded and edited a monthly magazine called The Man in the Moon, which ran from January 1847 to June 1849.

Travels and mountaineering

Albert Richard Smith in the 1850s.

In 1849 Smith went on a tour to Constantinople and the Near East. On his return he published A Month at Constantinople, and shortly afterwards he appeared at Willis's Rooms in a public entertainment about his travels called "The Overland Mail", which proved a hit. In August 1851 he ascended Mont Blanc. The year after he published a book about his adventures, The Story of Mont Blanc, and produced at the Egyptian Hall an entertainment called "Mont Blanc", describing the ascent of the mountain and the Englishman abroad, which became the most popular exhibition of the kind ever known. In May 1854 he gave his performance before Queen Victoria and Prince Albert at Osborne House. Smith's "Mont Blanc" show ran for 2000 performances over six years and helped to popularize mountain climbing in mid-Victorian Britain. He was one of the founder members of the Alpine Club in 1857. In July 1858 Smith traveled to Hong Kong. On his return he published To China and Back (1859), and in December 1858 he commenced at the Egyptian Hall a third entertainment, called "Mont Blanc to China", which was also very popular.


In 1859 Smith married Mary Lucy Keeley (circa 1830–1870), who had been an actress and was the elder daughter of the comedian Robert Keeley and the distinguished actress Mary Anne Keeley. In 1860 he died from bronchitis in Fulham, London, and was buried in Brompton Cemetery. Smith received great help from his brother, Arthur W.W. Smith (1825–1861), who had also been educated in medicine and who managed the entertainments at the Egyptian Hall from 1852 to 1860. Arthur also planned Charles Dickens's readings in 1858, and made arrangements for a second series, but died before they were completed.


  1. ^ Hansen 2004.
  2. ^ Chisholm 1911, p. 259.
  3. ^ The Concise Dictionary of National Biography, part 1, from the beginnings to 1900, being an Epitome of the main work and its supplement (1906) by George Smith page 1211


  • Hansen, Peter H. (2004). "Smith, Albert Richard (1816–1860)".  

Further reading

  • Bevin, Darren (2010). Cultural Climbs: John Ruskin, Albert Smith and the Alpine Aesthetic. 
  • Fleming, Fergus (2000). "Chapter XII". Killing Dragons:The Conquest of the Alps. New York: Grove Press. 

External links

  • Smith, Albert (1845). The Fortunes of the Scattergood Family, Vol. 1. London, UK: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street. 
  • Smith, Albert (1848). The Struggles and Adventures of Christopher Tadpole at Home and Abroad. London, UK: Richard Bentley, New Burlington Street. 
  • Smith, Albert (1848). The Natural History of the Idler Upon Town. London, UK: D. Bogue, Fleet Street. 
  • Smith, Albert (1853). The Story of Mont Blanc. New York, N.Y.: G. P. Putnam & Co. 
  • Smith, Albert Richard; Smith, Arthur, ed (1861). The London Medical Student. London: Routledge, Warne, and Routledge. 
  • Yates, Edmund (1871). "Albert Smith in Memoriam". Mont Blanc by Albert Smith. London: Ward, Lock and Tyler. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
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