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Selected Poetry of William Knox (1789-1825)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

  1. Mortality


Notes on Life and Works

William Knox was born August 17, 1789, in Lillieslief, Roxburghshire, and educated there and at Loretto Academy in Musselburgh. He took up farming from his parents but abandoned it for journalism, and especially poetry. He brought out three volumes of verse, The Lonely Hearth, and Other Poems (North Shields, 1818), The Songs of Israel (Edinburgh, 1824), and The Harp of Zion (Edinburgh, April 1825). Robert Southey, an early acquaintance, thought well of Knox's writings, but his greatest admirer was Abraham Lincoln, the American President, who committed Knox's poem "Mortality" (1824) to memory in 1831 and made it famous in America. Knox died of a stroke at Leith on November 12, 1825.

Biographical information

Given name: William
Family name: Knox
Birth date: 17 August 1789
Death date: 12 November 1825
Nationality: Scottish
Education: Loretto Academy, Musselburgh
Literary period: Romantic
Occupations
          Journalist
          farmer
Residences
          5 and 13 Moray Street, Edinburgh
          Firth, Lillieslief, Roxburghshire: 1789 to 1817
Cause of death: Paralytic stroke
Buried at: New Calton cemetery, Edinburgh
First RPO edition: 2003