George Meredith's first novel, The Shaving of Shagpat, was influenced by Beckford's Vathek and Southey's Thalaba the Destroyer. He also posed as the young poet Thomas Chatterton in Henry Wallis' painting The Death of Chatterton. Two years later, Wallis eloped with his wife (daughter of Thomas Love Peacock) leaving Meredith to raise their son alone until he remarried after her death. These distressing events provided inspiration for a volume of poetry, Modern Love, and a novel, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel.

Meredith's early years were mined for the novel Evan Harrington: the Great Mel is based on his grandfather, Melchizedek Meredith, and the Countess de Saldar on his aunt Louisa. Diana of the Crossways was inspired by the tragic marriage and trial of the writer Caroline Norton, grandaughter of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan (also an ancestor of Sheridan Le Fanu). Norton was at one time believed to be the lover of Lord Melbourne, widower of Caroline Lamb.

At one time, Meredith lived in the same Chelsea house with the Rossetti brothers and the poet Swinburne. The Adventures of Harry Richmond was illustrated by George du Maurier, author of Trilby. Meredith's novel The Egoist was a favourite of Robert Louis Stevenson, who was convinced that the character of Sir Willoughby Patterne was based on him.

As a reader at the publishing company Chapman and Hall, Meredith read Thomas Hardy's first novel, and took him out to lunch to give him pointers. Hardy was later amused to point out that Meredith gave excellent advice, but didn't apply it to his own work. Meredith was also the first to recognize the potential of novelist George Gissing, and was an admirer of Thomas Lovell Beddoes.

Attending Meredith's funeral, Max Beerbohm was taken aback to be mistaken for Barrie author of Peter Pan, and was pressured into signing an autograph. I know it was in poor taste; I said nothing, but when I took the volume my pen ran away with me, and I wrote, 'Ay, Lassie! It's a sad day the noo. J. M. Barrie.

Gothic Labyrinth
Gothic Labyrinth