(Born: April 25, 1785 -
Died: October 26, 1862)
British author. He was born in Great Stanmore, Middlesex, England. His
father was William Edward Dalton. His middle name was taken from his
godfather, James Dalton. James Forbes Dalton never married.
Very little is known about the author Poe reviewed, and his
identification as James Forbes Dalton is necessarily somewhat
tentative. Because most of his books are published anonymously, it is
unlikely to be a pseudonym. He is the author of The Old Maiden's
Talisman and Other Strange Tales, London: Bull and Churton, Holles
Street, 1834, 3 vols. Included in this volume are: "The Old Maiden’s
Talisman" (1:1-2:154), "Peter Snook: A Tale of the City,"
(2:155–3:146), "Follow Your Nose," (3:147–3:204), and "The
Lodging-House Bewitched" (3:205–3:324). The title page cites him as the
author of "Chartley," "The Invisible Gentleman," and "The
Gentleman in Black." These works, along with a few others, are
Chartley the Fatalist, London: Edward Bull, 1831, 3
The Gentleman in Black, London: William Kidd, 1831 (illustrated by
The Robber, London: Edward Bull, 1832, 3 vols.
The Invisible Gentleman, London: Edward Bull, 1833.
The Rival Demons: A Poem, 1836 (a chapbook)
He may also have written for Blackwood's Magazine. John Clute
and John Grant (The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, St. Martin's, 1997)
have an entry of James Dalton and note James Forbes Dalton as being
"active in the same period" and as the author of The Beauty Draught
(1840), which they describe as "a moralistic fantasy in exactly the
same vein" as The Invisible Gentleman. They too conclude that
"the two are probably the same writer." (They also note a writer for Bentley's
Miscellany who signs himself as "Dalton," but was a son of
Richard Harris Barham.)
The Gentleman's Magazine (London) for December 1862 (pp.
784-785), contains an obituary for James Forbes Dalton, giving his
birthdate and deathdate as noted above. (The Gentleman's Magazine
for September 1834, pp. 282-283, reviews The Old Maiden's Tailsman
without identifying the author.) The obituary comments: "Upon his
return [from Rome] he settled near London, and was well known in
several of the literary circles of that time. He published pamplets on
the politics of the day, several works of light reading, and was
likewise a frequent contributor to the Annuals, Blackwood, Fraser, and
other leading periodicals; but, as he never affixed his name to those
compositions (although in several instances they attained the celebrity
of two or three editions), they cannot now be enumerated correctly.
Messers. Blackwood pritned for him in 1860, 'Some of my Contributions
in Rhyme to Periodicals in Bye-gone Days, by a Septuagerian."