Theodore Edward Hook, an English author and journalist, born in London, Sept. 22, 1788, died in Fulham, Aug. 24, 1841. As a boy he showed extraordinary precocity. After a very inadequate education, terminating prematurely at Harrow, he rejoined his father, then musical director of Vauxhall gardens, and soon gave evidence of his talents by the production of several songs, for which he also composed the music; and when scarcely 16 he wrote a drama entitled "The Soldier's Return," which was well received. Elated by the extravagant praises of friends, he produced in rapid succession a number of farces and vaudevilles, and at an ago when most boys are at school was a successful dramatist, the wit of the greenroom, and the companion of actors and playwrights. Yielding to the fascinations of such a life, he gradually enlarged the circle of his admirers by his facile humor, his astonishing faculty of punning, the audacity of his practical jokes, and his brilliant powers of improvisation, until he was welcomed to the most aristocratic society of London, and even attracted the notice of the prince regent, who sent him in 1812 to Mauritius as accountant general and treasurer, with a salary of £2,000. In 1818 he was brought back to England as a prisoner under a charge of embezzling a sum of the public money estimated at £20,000, but which was subsequently reduced to £12,000. The law officer of the crown decided that there was no ground for a criminal prosecution, although his carelessness and incapacity were displayed to an extent almost incredible; and he was set at liberty and once more commenced the career of an author.
In 1820 the "John Bull " newspaper was established in the interest of the king, for the purpose of crushing the supporters of Queen Caroline, and Hook's powers of satire and ridicule suggested him as a fit person to conduct it. He performed the task with great adroitness, and the circulation of the paper gave him a handsome income. In 1823 the government reasserted its claim against him, but after two years' confinement he procured a stay of proceedings, although he never made any attempt to discharge the debt. He was again welcomed to society, and to the close of his life remained a professed diner-out and wit. He employed his literary powers to some purpose, in the production of " Sayings and Doings," in three series, "Gilbert Gur-ney," "Maxwell," "Jack Brag," and a number of other novels. Fashionable dissipation, high living, hard drinking, the excitement of the gaming table, and the constant mental strain to which he was subjected, gradually undermined his constitution, and he ended his career, to adopt his own words, "done up in purse, in mind, and in body." In 1849 appeared the "Life and Remains of Theodore Hook," by the Rev. Mr. Barham (2 vols. 8vo).