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Leigh Hunt (1784 - 1859)

Books by this author: Selected Writings
  • About
  • Leigh Hunt, (1784-1859), dubbed the 'spirit of the age' by Hazlitt, became a journalist in 1805, after eight years at Christ's Hospital and the publication of his Juvenalia. He made his debut as a drama critic in The News, edited by his brother John. In 1808 the brothers launched their best-known weekly paper, The Examiner, which they were to edit five years later from separate gaol cells, having libelled the Prince Regent. Hunt's wife and baby daughter joined him in Surrey gaol and he was comfortably off there, with his piano and a string of visitors including Byron, Thomas More, Hazlitt and Lamb.

    He befriended Shelley and Keats, commending their poetry in The Examiner in 1816. His friendship with the Carlyles blossomed after his return from Italy. His reputation, at its peak in 1821, then declined. In 1832 and 1844 his Collected Poems were published, and in 1844 his most substantial critical works, Imagination and Fancy and What is Poetry? appeared. His later years were impecunious: Dickens evokes him as Skimpole in Bleak House.
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