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Dictionary of World Biography
awarded the CH (1951), a KT (1963), AK (1976)
and succeeded Winston *Churchill as Lord Warden
of the Cinque Ports 1965–78.
Hazelhurst, C., Menzies Observed. 1979; Martin, A.
W., Robert Menzies: A Life. Vol 1. 1993; Brett, J.,
Robert Menzies’ Forgotten People. 1992.
Mercator, Gerhardus (Gerhard Kremer) (1512–
1594). Flemish geographer and cartographer, born in
Rupelmonde (now in Belgium). He graduated from
Louvain University where he worked as a map-maker
and instrument designer until, as a Protestant, he
emigrated to Germany (1552). Originally a follower
of *Ptolemy, he devised the familiar ‘Mercator
projection’ which represents the world, in effect, as
a cylinder, not a globe, in which the meridians of
longitude remain parallel without converging to a
point at each pole. He used this projection for his
world chart of 1569 (18 sheets). His maps facilitated
sailing by dead reckoning and became useful and
popular, since few sailors ventured beyond 50° N or
S. He also constructed globes. Two parts of his great
atlas (107 maps in all) were published in 1585 and
1589; his son published the third part (1595) after his
death. He first applied the name ‘Americae’ to both
continents of the New World.
Mercer, John (1791–1866). English calico printer.
He discovered that cotton fibres could be made
stronger and more receptive to dyes if treated with
a solution of caustic alkali, a process known as
‘mercerising’.
Meredith, George (1828–1909). English novelist
and poet, born in Portsmouth. He contributed to
periodicals, published much poetry and wrote an
oriental fantasy The Shaving of Shagpat (1856) before
the appearance of his first novel, The Ordeal of Richard
Feverel (1859). He shared rooms with *Swinburne
and *Rossetti 1861–62. In 1862 he published his
tragic poem Modern Love and became a reader to the
publishers Chapman & Hall (until 1894). In 1876 he
settled at Flint Cottage, Box Hill, Surrey, his home for
the rest of his life. Among his best known novels are
Rhoda Fleming (1865), Beauchamp’s Career (1876),
The Egoist (1879), The Tragic Comedians (1880), based
on the love story of Ferdinand *Lassalle, and Diana
of the Crossways (1885), the only one to achieve real
popularity. Meredith combined intellectual clarity, a
hatred of the commonplace and an impressionistic
technique. From this emerged a style so difficult and
convoluted that Oscar *Wilde commented ‘As a writer
he mastered everything but language’. Meredith was
twice married, in 1849 to a daughter of Thomas Love
*Peacock, who left him in 1858 and died in 1861,
and (1864) to Marie Vulliamy (d.1885), who lived
with him at Box Hill. He received the OM in 1905.
Stevenson, L., The Ordeal of George Meredith. 1953.
572
Mérimée, Prosper (1803–1870). French novelist,
born in Paris. He studied law, language and literature,
was inspired by his friend *Stendhal, and by the works
of *Scott and *Pushkin and first gained attention with
the publication of fake translations (actually original
compositions). In 1833 he became Inspector-General
of Historical Monuments and initiated the restoration
and conservation of the abbey church at Vézelay,
Notre Dame and many other decaying structures
(*Viollet-Le-Duc). He had a great knowledge of
archaeology and travelled widely. He was a friend of
the future empress *Eugénie and became a member
of the Académie Française in 1844 and a senator
in 1853. He wrote many historical novels, but his
best remembered works were Mateo Falcone (1833), a
short story, Colomba (1840) and Carmen (1846), used
as the basis of *Bizet’s opera. His letters, published
posthumously, were a critical appraisal of the Second
Empire. He died in Cannes.
Raitt, A. W., Mérimée. 1970.
Merkel, Angela Dorothea (1954– ). German
Christian Democratic politician, born in Hamburg.
She represented Leipzig in the Bundestag 1990– and
was Minister for Women and Young People 1991–94
and for the Environment 1994–98. In November
2005, she became Chancellor of Germany, the first
woman to hold the office and the first from the
former East German Republic.
Merleau-Ponty, Maurice (1908–1961). French
philosopher. He taught at Lyon, the Sorbonne and
the Collège de France, and worked with *Sartre in
editing Les Temps Modernes (1945–52) and defending
Stalinist terror. He wrote The Phenomenology of
Perception (1945, English translation 1962).
Merrick, Joseph Carey (1862–1890). English
patient. He suffered from neurofibromatosis, a
disease that caused grotesque malformation of the
skull and he was exhibited in fairs and sideshows as
‘The Elephant Man’ until given sensitive treatment
by the surgeon Sir Frederick Treves. In the film The
Elephant Man (1980), Merrick’s role was played by
John Hurt. An alternative diagnosis was Proteus
disease.
Howell, M. and Ford, P., The True History of the
Elephant Man. 1980.
Merriman, Henry Seton (pen name of Hugh
Stowell Scott) (1863–1903). English novelist. He
was a businessman who took to writing novels with
exciting plots, exotic settings and characters including
memorable ‘strong, silent men’. The best of his books
include With Edged Tools (1894), The Sowers (1896)
and In Kedar’s Tents (1897).
Mersenne, Marin (1588–1648). French scientist.
Educated by the Jesuits, in 1611 he joined the Minim
Order, and lived at the Minim Convent in Paris until
his death. Mersenne’s major contribution to European