Born 1828 Died 1895
George Augustus Henry Sala was born in London, on the 24th of November 1828. His father, Augustus John James Sala (1792-1828), was the son of Claudio Sebastiano Sala, an Italian, who came to London to arrange ballets at the theatres; his mother, Henrietta Simon (1789-1860), was an actress and teacher of singing. Sala was at school in Paris and studied drawing in London. In his earlier years he did odd jobs in scene-painting and book illustration. He wrote a tragedy in French, Fredegonde, before he was ten years old, and in 1851 attracted the attention of Charles Dickens, who published articles and stories by him in Household Words and All the Year Round, and in 1856 sent him to Russia as a special correspondent. About the same time he got to know Edmund Yates, with whom, in his earlier years, he was constantly connected in his journalistic ventures.
From 1860 to 1886, over his own initials, he wrote Echoes of the Week for the Illustrated London News. Afterwards they were continued in a syndicate of weekly newspapers almost to his death. Thackeray, when editor of the Cornhill, published articles by him on Hogarth in 1860, which were issued in volume form in 1866. In 1860 he started Temple Bar, which he edited till 1866 when the magazine was taken over by Messrs Bentley. Meanwhile he had become in 1857 a contributor to the London Daily Telegraph, and it was in this capacity that he did his most, characteristic work, whether as a foreign correspondent in all parts of the world, or as a writer of leaders or special articles.
His literary style was highly coloured, bombastic, egotistic and full of turgid periphrases, but his articles were invariably full of interesting matter and helped to make the reputation of the paper. He collected a large library and had an elaborate system of commonplace-books, so that he could bring into his articles enough show or reality of special information to make excellent reading for a not very critical public; he had an extraordinary faculty for never saying the same thing twice in the same way. He earned a large income from the Telegraph and other sources, but he never could keep his money.
In 1863 he started on his first tour as special foreign correspondent to his paper. He spent the year 1864 in America and published a Diary of the war. Expeditions to Algiers, to Italy during Garibaldi's 1866 campaign, to Metz during the Franco-German war, to Spain in 1875 at the end of the Carlist war, were among his early journalistic enterprises, the long list of which closed with his journey through America and Australia in 1885. In 1892, when his reputation was at its height, he started a weekly paper called Sala's Journal, but it was a disastrous failure; and in 1895 he had to sell his library of 13,000 volumes. Lord Rosebery gave him a civil list pension of £100 a year, but he was a broken-down man, and he died at Brighton on the 8th of December 1895. Sala published many volumes of fiction, travels and essays, and edited various other works, but his metier was that of ephemeral journalism.
See The Life and Adventures of George Augustus Sala, written by himself (2 vols., 1895).
Being the entry for SALA, GEORGE AUGUSTUS HENRY in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.