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Author: Pratt, Samuel Jackson


PRATT, Samuel Jackson (1749-1814: ODNB)

pseudonym Courtney Melmoth

There is some mystery about many of the names associated with Pratt. He was born in St. Ives, son of a prosperous brewer who served as county sheriff but whose first name is not recorded and his wife, identified as a niece of Sir Thomas Drury but whose own name is not known. He had some schooling and was ordained as a clergyman but about 1772 he eloped with a young woman from a boarding school whose first name was Charlotte and whose surname might have been Melmoth, since they used Courtney and Charlotte Melmoth as their stage names after he left the church and began a career as an actor. She was more successful than he but at some point after 1781 when they performed together for the last time, they separated amicably--she to tour in the provinces and later in America, where she died in 1823, and he to focus increasingly on authorship. He was a versatile and prolific writer: he published travel books, novels, criticism, essays, drama, and poetry. An unusual theme in many of these works is his concern for the welfare of animals, expressed most influentially in the narrative Liberal Opinions (1775-7) and the poem Sympathy (1788). He was based mainly in London but died at his home in Birmingham as a consequence of injuries suffered in a fall from his horse. One final mystery is that in a will of 1806 he refers to a "late wife, Mrs. Pratt," but "Mrs. Melmoth" was alive and well and nothing more is known about a possibly regular marriage to someone else. (ODNB 6 Jul. 2020; Philip K. Highfill et al., eds., A Biographical Dictionary of Actors . . . in London, 1660-1800 [1984])


Other Names:

  • Mr. Pratt
  • Pratt
  • S. J. Pratt

Books written (46):

4th edn. London: Cadell, 1781
5th edn. London: Cadell, 1781
6th edn. London: T. Cadell, 1782
Dublin: Byrne, 1782
2nd edn. [London]: Becket, [1785]
2nd edn. London: T. Becket, 1785
London: Becket, 1785
London/ Oxford/ Cambridge: J. Dodsley, J. Robson, T. Cadell, P. Elmsly, and C. Dilly/ Prince/ Merrill, 1786
London: [no publisher], 1789
Manchester/ London: printed by G. Nicholson/T. Knott and Champante and Whitrow, 1798
London: Longman and Rees, 1801
London: T. N. Longman and O. Rees, and J. Harris, 1802
2nd edn. London/ Tewkesbury: Longman and Rees/ printed by W. Dyde, 1802
3rd edn. London: J.[T?] N. Longman and O. Rees, Vernor and Hood, J. Hatchard, and T. Becket, 1803
4th edn. London: Longman, 1805
10th edn. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown [and several others], [1806?]
2nd edn. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme, and J. Harris, 1810
6th edn. London: 1816
10th edn. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, J. Otridge, Taylor and Hessey, Rodwell and Martin, T. and G. Underwood, R. Jennings, Hailes, and J. Harper, 1817
3rd edn. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, and J. Harris, 1817