Like the later Sheridan LeFanu, of Irish Hugenot ancestry, Maturin was a native of Dublin, and took holy orders in the Church of Ireland after studying in Trinity College Dublin. He served as a curate in Loughrea, County Galway, and in Dublin. His startling Gothic novels were a far cry from the dereliction which surrounded him in his Dublin parish of St. Peter's. He was little read in his lifetime, and none of his books achieved a second edition before his death.
Maturin began his career by trying to disguise his unusual name under the eccentric pseudonym, Dennis Jasper Murphy. His first play, Bertram was a success when produced by Edmund Kean at Drury Lane, London, in 1816, but two other tragedies were failures.
He had more success in getting his novels published, at least. Of these, only Women deals with life in contemporary Ireland. Melmoth the Wanderer is his undoubted masterpiece. It is a curious but powerful adaptation of the legend of The Wandering Jew. Balzac wrote a sequel, Melmoth Reconcilie, and Baudelaire planned to translate Maturin's novel into French. After his release from Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde ended his days in France living under the pseudonym Sebastian Melmoth.