The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Charles Hamilton Aidé, 1826-1906

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1826.11.04
Place of Birth: rue St. Honoré, Paris
Date of Death: 1906.12.13
Place of Death: London


Charles Hamilton Aidé was a novelist, dramatist, musician and amateur artist. He was the younger son of George Aïdá, the son of an Armenian merchant in Constantinople who was killed in a dual in Paris when his son was four years old, and his wife Georgina, the second daughter of Admiral Sir George Collier. He had an elder brother, Frederick (b. July 1823), who was killed in Boulogne in 1831. He never married.


Aidé was educated at the University of Bonn and then served in the British army with the eighty-fifth light infantry, retiring as captain in 1853. He was widely travelled. In Britain he lived at Lyndhurst in the New Forest with his mother until her death in 1875, and then at 2 Richmond Terrace, Whitehall, and then at Queen Anne's Mansions, Queen Anne's Gate, London, where he entertained many important French and English social, musical, artistic and literary figures, including JW and the Prince of Wales. Louise Jopling described him as 'a rich bachelor' who 'was a noted figure in the seventies'.

Aidé's first volume of poetry, Eleanore, and other Poems, was published in 1856. Subsequent volumes included The Romance of the Scarlet Leaf (1865), Songs without Music; Rhymes and Recitations (1882) and Past and Present (1903). An accomplished musician, he set many of his verses to music, including 'The Danube River', 'The Fisher', 'The Spanish Boat Song' and 'Brown Eyes and Blue Eyes'. He wrote around twenty novels concerning fashionable society, including Rita (1856), Confidences (1859), Carr of Carlyon (3 vols., 1862), Morals and Mysteries (1872), Passages in the Life of a Lady in 1814-1815-1816 (3 vols., 1887) and The Chivalry of Harold (1907).

He also wrote plays and gave theatricals in his own home. On 7 February 1874 his romantic drama Philip was produced by Henry Irving at the Lyceum theatre, with Irving in the leading role. His comedy A Nine Days' Wonder was shown at the Court Theatre in June 1875, produced by John Hare, with Mr. and Mrs. Kendal. Aidé also published seven miniature plays, We are Seven; Half Hours on the Stage; Grave and Gay, in 1902. As an amateur artist he exhibited sketches of his travels at many of the London galleries. In 1894 a major exhibition of his works was held at the Goupil Gallery.

In 1874/6 Aidé was included in a list by JW that may have been a guest list for the private view of his 1874 Pall Mall exhibition or a subscription list for JW's Venice etchings as proposed in 1876 (#12714). He was also included in JW's guest list for the winter exhibition of the RBA in 1887-88 (#13403), and was amongst those proposed invitees to a dinner organised by W. C. Symons to congratulate JW on being made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Munich, a dinner which was to be held at the Criterion in Piccadilly on 1 May 1889 (#05635).


Jopling, Louise, Twenty Years of My Life, 1867 to 1887, London, 1925; Johnson, J. and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Dictionary of National Biography Online, Oxford, 1997 (accessed 2003).