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Charles Robert Maturin (1782-1824) was an Irish clergyman who moved in Dublin society circles, dressed outlandishly, constantly courted rumour and speculation, and was said by his literary admirers to have "the madness of genius." He frequently worked, we are told, in a room full of people, his mouth covered with a paste made of flour and water to prevent himself joining in the conversation. This love of flamboyance and exaggeration is much evident in Maturin's work, particularly the famous Melmouth the Wonderer. "Melmouth," the immortal man, is certainly one of the greatest of all Irish fantasy characters and in his creator's extravagant life we can see a pattern of behaviour emerging which has since become almost the style for Irish writers.