A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, by John W. Cousin


Inchbald, Mrs. Elizabeth (Simpson) (1753–1821). — Novelist and dramatist, daughter of a Suffolk farmer. In a romantic fit she left her home at the age of 16, and went to London, where she became acquainted with Inchbald the actor, who married her in 1772. Seven years later her husband died, and for the next ten years she was on the stage, chiefly in Scotland and Ireland. She produced many plays, including Mogul Tale (1784), I’ll Tell you What (1785), Appearance is against Them (1785), Such Things Are, The Married Man, The Wedding Day, and two novels, A Simple Story (1791), and Nature and Art (1796), which have been frequently reprinted. She also made a collection of plays, The Modern Theatre, in 10 vols. Her life was remarkable for its simplicity and frugality, and a large part of her earnings was applied in the maintenance of a delicate sister. Though of a somewhat sentimental and romantic nature, she preserved an unblemished reputation.

Ingelow, Jean (1820–1897). — Poetess and novelist, daughter of a banker at Boston, Lincolnshire, published three vols. of poems, of which perhaps the best known individual piece is “The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire,” and several successful novels, including Off the Skelligs (1872), Fated to be Free (1875), and Sarah de Berenger (1879). She also wrote excellent stories for children, Mopsa the Fairy, Stories told to Children, etc. Her poems show a considerable lyric gift.

Innes, Cosmo (1798–1874). — Historian and antiquary, was called to the Scottish Bar in 1822, and was appointed Prof. of Constitutional Law and History in the University of Edinburgh in 1846. He was the author of Scotland in the Middle Ages (1860), and Sketches of Early Scottish History (1861). He also ed. many historical MSS. for the Bannatyne and other antiquarian clubs. Much learning is displayed in his works.

Innes, Thomas (1662–1744). — Historian, was descended from an old Roman Catholic family in Aberdeenshire. He studied in Paris at the Scots College, of which he became Principal. He was the author of two learned works, Critical Essay on the Ancient Inhabitants of the Northern Parts of Britain (1729), and Civil and Ecclesiastical History of Scotland, 80 to 818 (published by the Spalding Club, 1853).

Ireland, William Henry (1777–1835). — Forger of Shakespeare manuscripts, son of an antiquarian bookseller in London. He claimed to have discovered the MSS. in the house of a gentleman of fortune. The forgeries included various deeds, a Protestant confession of faith by Shakespeare, letters to Ann Hathaway, Southampton, and others, a new version of King Lear, and a complete drama, Vortigern and Rowena. He completely deceived his father and various men of letters and experts, but was detected by Malone, and the representation of Vortigern on the stage completed the exposure. I. then tried novel-writing, in which he failed. He published a confession in regard to the forgeries, in which he asserted that his father had no part in the imposture, but had been completely deceived by it.

Irving, Edward (1792–1834). — Theologian and orator, born at Annan, Dumfriesshire, and ed. at Edinburgh University, for some years thereafter was engaged in teaching at Kirkcaldy. Ordained to the ministry of the Church of Scotland he became, in 1819, assistant to Dr. Chalmers in Glasgow, after which he went to the Scotch Church in Hatton Gardens, London, where he had an almost unprecedented popularity, his admirers including De Quincey, Coleridge, Canning, Scott, and others. The effect of his spoken oratory is not preserved in his writings, and was no doubt in a considerable degree due to his striking appearance and fine voice. He is described as “a tall, athletic man, with dark, sallow complexion and commanding features; long, glossy black hair, and an obvious squint.” Soon after removing to a new church in Regent Square he began to develop his views relative to the near approach of the Second Advent; and his Homilies on the Sacraments involved him in a charge of heretical views on the person of Christ, which resulted in his ejection from his church, and ultimately in his deposition from the ministry. Thereafter his views as to the revival, as in the early Church, of the gifts of healing and of tongues, to which, however, he made no personal claim, underwent rapid development, and resulted in the founding of a new communion, the Catholic Apostolic Church, the adherents of which are commonly known as “Irvingites.” Whether right or mistaken in his views there can be no doubt of the personal sincerity and nobility of the man. His published writings include For the Oracles of God, For Judgment to Come, and The Last Days, and contain many passages of majestic eloquence.

Irving, Washington (1783–1859). — Essayist and historian, born in New York, son of William I. who had emigrated from Scotland. He was in his youth delicate, and his education was somewhat desultory, but his father had a fine library, of which he had the run, and he was an omnivorous reader. In 1799 he entered a law office, but a threatening of consumption led to his going, in 1804, on a European tour in search of health. On his return in 1806 he was admitted to the Bar. He did not, however, prosecute law, but joined his brothers in business as a sleeping partner, while he devoted himself to literature. In 1807 he conducted Salmagundi, an amusing miscellany, and in 1809 appeared A History of New York by Diedrich Knickerbocker, a burlesque upon the old Dutch settlers, which has become a classic in America. He made in 1815 a second visit to Europe, from which he did not return for 17 years. In England he was welcomed by Thomas Campbell, the poet, who introduced him to Scott, whom he visited at Abbotsford in 1817. The following year the firm with which he was connected failed, and he had to look to literature for a livelihood. He produced The Sketch–Book (1819), which was, through the influence of Scott, accepted by Murray, and had a great success on both sides of the Atlantic. In 1822 he went to Paris, where he began Bracebridge Hall, followed in 1824 by Tales of a Traveller. In 1826 Everett, the American minister at Madrid, invited him to come and assist him by making translations relative to Columbus, which opened up to him a new field hitherto little cultivated. The result was a series of fascinating historical and romantic works, beginning with History of the Life and Voyages of Columbus (1828), and including The Conquest of Granada (1829), Voyages of the Companions of Columbus (1831), The Alhambra (1832), Legends of the Conquest of Spain (1835), and Mahomet and his Successors (1849). Meanwhile he had returned to England in 1829, and to America in 1832. In 1842 he was appointed Minister to Spain, and in 1846 he finally returned to America. In the same year he published a Life of Goldsmith, and his great work, the Life of Washington, came out 1855–59, Wolfert’s Roost, a collection of tales and essays, appeared in 1855. I. was never married: in his youth he had been engaged to a girl who died, and whose memory he faithfully cherished. His last years were spent at Sunnyside, an old Dutch house near his “sleepy hollow,” and there he died suddenly on Nov. 28, 1859. Though not, perhaps, a writer of commanding power or originality, I., especially in his earlier works, imparted by his style and treatment a singular charm to every subject he touched, and holds a high place among American men of letters, among whom he is the first who has produced what has, on its own merits, living interest in literature. He was a man of high character and amiable disposition.


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