Leigh Hunt



A poet, critic, and journalist who began publishing in his teens, Leigh Hunt grew up to write for, and edit both the best and worst journals in England in the 19th century. In 1808, He and his brother established The Examiner, a journal that lasted 78 years and became a forum for some of the best writers of the century. He also founded the fantastically unsuccessful political journal, The Liberal, that never got off the ground, and the Tatler, which failed after only two years. His writing built his life and broke it, and built it again, giving him notoriety and success on the one hand, and poverty and imprisonment on the other. His close associations with great writers like Hazlitt, Lamb, Shelley, and Byron, along with his own writings attest to his ability to recognize and create great literature, but at the same time, his many public blunders call into question his judgment and tact. Toward the end of his life, greater financial security afforded him more time to write and he produced some of his best work. Between 1840 and his death in 1859, Hunt produced several successful plays, translations, memoirs, multi-volume collections, poems, as well as an autobiography.

(Compiled by Joey Franklin)

See also

Essays by Leigh Hunt

The cat by the fire

A blazing fire, a warm rug, candles lit and curtains drawn, the kettle on for tea, and finally, the cat before you, attracting your attention—it is a scene which everybody likes, unless he has a morbid aversion to cats.

A day by the fire

It is part of my business to look about for helps to reflection; and, for this reason, among many others, I indulge myself in keeping a good fire from morning till night.

Deaths of little children

It is a part of the benignity of Nature that pain does not survive like pleasure, at any time, much less where the cause of it is an innocent one.

Of dreams

Being writers, we are of necessity dreamers; for thinking disposes the bodily faculties to be more than usually affected by the causes that generally produce dreaming.

An earth upon heaven

It is a pity that none of the great geniuses, to whose lot it has fallen to describe a future state, has given us his own notions of heaven.

On the graces and anxieties of pig-driving

Remember, gentle reader, that talents are not to be despised in the humblest walks of life; we will add, nor in the muddiest.

Upon indexes

As there is ‘a soul of goodness in things evil,’ so there is a soul of humour in things dry.

On periodical essays

A Lover of Wisdom claims no more merit to himself for his title than is claimed by the lover of any other lady; all his praise consists in having discovered her beauty and good sense.

On the realities of imagination

the advantage, nay even the test, of seeing and hearing, at any time, is not in the seeing and hearing, but in the ideas we realise, and the pleasure we derive.

Thoughts and guesses on human nature

Death serves to make us think, not of itself, but of what is about us.

Walks home by night

Supposing then that we are in a reasonable state of health and comfort in other respects, we say that a walk home at night has its merits, if you choose to meet with them.

On washerwomen

The beauty of this unlimited power of suggestion in writing is, that you may take up the driest and most commonplace of all possible subjects, and strike a light out of it to warm your intellect and your heart by.


A window is a frame for other pictures besides its own.
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