He was born in Portsmouth, but educated partly in Germany. While studying law in London, he began to write articles, and coincidentally married the daughter of Thomas Love Peacock. Although the marriage was an unhappy one, he continued his literary career, taking on a job with the publishing firm of Chapman & Hall. In 1851 he published his first volume of poetry, but his first major success was The Shaving of Shagpat (1855).
Other works include: