Charles William Shirley Brooks was born on 29 April, 1816 at 52 Doughty Street, London. The son of Elizabeth and William Brooks (an architect), he was articled to his uncle Charles Sabine of Oswestry after receiving his early education. In 1938, he passed the Incorporated Law Society's examination, but there is no record of Brooks becoming a solicitor. Brooks began his writing career in 1842 as a journalist for Ainsworth's Magazine. From 1848 to 1952 he worked as a parliamentary correspondent for the Morning Chronicle. Apart from his journalistic endeavors, Brooks also wrote drama, often quite successfully. His first play, The Creole, or, Love's Fetters, was very well received when it premiered at the Lyceum in 1847. In total, Brooks wrote nine plays, which varied in genre from farce and comedy to drama. During the 1850s and 1860s, while continuing his work for the leading periodicals, Brooks also turned to writing novels. These included Aspen Court: a Story of our Own Time (1855), Gordian Knot (1860) and Sooner or Later (3 vols., 1966-8). Nevertheless, Shirley Brooks is most remembered as a regular contributor to Punch, from 1851 on. His writing was well received, particularly his witty parliamentary commentary. His dedication to the publication allowed Brooks to become editor of the journal in 1870. He continued his work for Punch until his death on 14 march, 1872.
- Boase, G. C. “Brooks, Charles William Shirley (1816-1874).” Rev. H. C. G. Matthew. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004.