I am a psychologist by training and career. I ran my own management consulting company in Sydney, Australia for around 20 years and it was from observations made during client interviews, that I have based my radical new theory of life in 12 year symbolic cycles, known simply as 'Life Cycles'. However, I usually don't categorise my articles under a Psychology heading, as they are more an examination of biographical data that occurs in a small number of years. Yet, when I come to think about it, there is a fair amount of psychology in what I do. |
I'm about to illustrate the process, by examining the short and tragic life of Robert Seymour. Robert lived in early 19th century England and rose to fame as one of the country's leading illustrators (hence my article title). I uncovered his life when I researched and wrote about the 'Life Cycles' of Charles Dickens.
However, I'm not going to once again dwell on the issues raised in making of The Pickwick Papers and Seymour's suicide, as they did not occur in one of Seymour's 'significant years' in 'Life Cycles' terms. What I mean to say is that, in particular, the first year of the 12 year cycle, ushers in a new age/new direction and I study biographies to find examples of highlights and breakthroughs in the years 24/36/48 etc. However the first two adult 'Years of Revolution', as I call them. the ages of 24 and 36, seem to have particular relevance to career.
Was it this way for Seymour? What evidence would I find? Remember Dickens has an exceptional public profile, whilst Seymour, in spite of his national fame, has very little biographical material, except for the year of The Pickwick Papers and his suicide during its production. That has major coverage.
So, we're going to knock the dust off this forgotten corner of history to see what we find. Seymour was born in 1798. There appears to be a lack of detail about his birth date or even the year in some articles, however we certainly know his age at his death on April 29th, 1836 of 38 years, so we simply work backwards. He was born in the early part of 1798. It's not the first time I've done this type of research. There are other ways to find out as well and that is by the volume of activity, that is reported in my 'significant years'. Once you examine this, it becomes obvious that it was a long action packed period.
There is only one significant year in the life of the young Robert Seymour and that was the year 1822, when it was reported that at the age of 24 (my first adult 'Year of Revolution') he achieved his ambition to be a painter, by having his work called Jerusalem Delivered with over 100 figures, displayed in the Royal Academy. It is also typical of these years, that things do not always go smoothly, but that temporary setbacks or frustrations can occur. Let's check on this shall we?
After the rejection of his second submission to the Royal Academy a short time later, he decided to learn the techniques of copper engraving in addition to painting in oils and thereby take up the career of illustrating books for a living. It was, in effect, the birth of his new age/new direction. He was commissioned to illustrate the works of Shakespeare, Milton, Cervantes and Wordsworth. From 1822 onwards it was stated that he produced designs for a wide range of subjects, including poetry, melodramas, children's stories and topographical and scientific works.
Consider, that at exactly the same age, Dickens was about to become embroiled in the tragic suicide of Seymour, as he was accused of hijacking the project they worked on together. This became known as The Pickwick Papers and it made Dickens name. He also married his employer's daughter in the same year and improved his social standing and began his career as a writer. Start thinking about the statistical probabilities of this all happening by chance.
So, let's project ourselves forward in time a full 12 years from 1822, to the year 1834, when Seymour was in his major, mid-life, age 36 'Year of Revolution', which comes to have prominence in so many lives. Will we find anything at all for Seymour? After all, there are a lot of other years, for events called 'turning points' and 'direction changes'.
In 1831, Seymour had begun work for new magazine called Figaro In London and contributed over 300 humorous drawings and political parodies with text by publisher and owner Gilbert a Beckett, who had an abusive manner and was a friend of both Dickens and the prominent caricaturist George Cruikshank. In 1834, a Beckett insulted Seymour by replacing him with Cruikshank's brother. Next a Beckett suffered a heavy financial loss and refused to pay Seymour and then launched a public media campaign, cruelly libelling Seymour and forcing his resignation. He was, in short a very nasty piece of work and he bullied Seymour and traumatized him.
This undoubtedly represented the low point of frustration for Seymour in his major direction-setting 'Year of Revolution' and it was posited to represent a causal factor in the coroner's suicide verdict some two years later. He resumed with Figaro In London when a new editor arrived. In spite of his setback Seymour was now established as pre-eminent an illustrator as George Cruikshank, and as one of the greatest artists since the days of Hogarth, and predicted by Sir Richard Phillips, that if he lived, he would have become President of the Royal Academy. In 1834, at the height of his prosperity, independently, Seymour launched a new series of lithographs; Sketches by Seymour (1834-36). This was then his highest year of achievement and again the central age 36 'Year of Revolution' holds good in his life.
His appalling treatment by a Beckett and later at the hands of a young ambitious Charles Dickens, only serves to highlight the tragedy of his unrealised future potential. The world is the poorer for his not having lived a full life of artistic contribution. However, there can be no argument that his two most prominent years of achievement were those when he was aged 24 and 36. My analysis shows just how closely the career of Robert Seymour matches my detailed description of all the elements that can be expected in his or anyone's 'Years of Revolutio
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Charles Dickens, Seymour suicide, The Pickwick Papers, Career pf Robert Seymour, New 12 year cycle theory,