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


Kames, Henry Home, Lord (1696–1782). — Miscellaneous writer, son of Geo. H., of Kames, Berwickshire, was admitted an advocate in 1723, and raised to the Bench in 1752. In 1748 he published a collection of Decisions of the Court of Session. It is, however, on his philosophical and historical writings that his literary fame rests. His writings include Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion (1751), The Elements of Criticism (1762), in which he sought for principles based on the elements of human nature; Sketches of the History of Man (1774), and Loose Hints on Education, in which many modern views are anticipated. In all these works, while the style is stiff and crabbed, there is much original thought. Lord K. was also an eminent authority upon agriculture, on which he in 1777 published a work entitled The Gentleman Farmer.

Kavanagh, Julia (1824–1877). — Novelist, daughter of Morgan K., poet, and philologist, wrote many novels, of which the scene is usually in France, among which are Madeleine (1848), Adèle, and Daisy Burns; also biographical works, Woman in France in the 18th Century (1850), etc.

Kaye, Sir John William (1814–1876). — Historian and biographer, son of a London solicitor, was ed. at Eton and Addiscombe. After serving for some time in the Bengal Artillery, he succeeded J.S. Mill as secretary to the political and secret department in the East India Office. His first literary work was a novel published in 1845, and he then began his valuable series of histories and biographies illustrative of the British occupation of India, including The War in Afghanistan (1851), and The Sepoy War in India, which he did not live to finish, and which was completed by G.B. Malleson as The History of the Indian Mutiny (6 vols., 1890); also histories of the East India Company and of Christianity in India, and Lives of Sir John Malcolm and other Indian soldiers and statesmen. All his writings are characterised by painstaking research, love of truth, and a style suited to the importance of his subjects. He was made K.C.S.I. in 1871.

Keary, Annie (1825–1879). — Novelist, wrote some good novels, including Castle Daly, A Doubting Heart, and Oldbury, also books for children and educational works.

Keats, John (1795–1821). — Poet, son of the chief servant at an inn in London, who married his master’s daughter, and died a man of some substance. He was sent to a school at Enfield, and having meanwhile become an orphan, was in 1810 apprenticed to a surgeon at Edmonton. In 1815 he went to London to walk the hospitals. He was not, however, at all enthusiastic in his profession, and having become acquainted with Leigh Hunt, Hazlitt, Shelley, and others, he gave himself more and more to literature. His first work — some sonnets — appeared in Hunt’s Examiner, and his first book, Poems, came out in 1817. This book, while containing much that gave little promise of what was to come, was not without touches of beauty and music, but it fell quite flat, finding few readers beyond his immediate circle. Endymion, begun during a visit to the Isle of Wight, appeared in 1818, and was savagely attacked in Blackwood and the Quarterly Review. These attacks, though naturally giving pain to the poet, were not, as was alleged at the time, the cause of his health breaking down, as he was possessed of considerable confidence in his own powers, and his claim to immortality as a poet. Symptoms of hereditary consumption, however, began to show themselves and, in the hope of restored health, he made a tour in the Lakes and Scotland, from which he returned to London none the better. The death soon after of his brother Thomas, whom he had helped to nurse, told upon his spirits, as did also his unrequited passion for Miss Fanny Brawne. In 1820 he published Lamia and Other Poems, containing Isabella, Eve of St. Agnes, Hyperion, and the odes to the Nightingale and The Grecian Urn, all of which had been produced within a period of about 18 months. This book was warmly praised in the Edinburgh Review. His health had by this time completely given way, and he was likewise harassed by narrow means and hopeless love. He had, however, the consolation of possessing many warm friends, by some of whom, the Hunts and the Brawnes, he was tenderly nursed. At last in 1821 he set out, accompanied by his friend Severn, on that journey to Italy from which he never returned. After much suffering he died at Rome, and was buried in the Protestant cemetery there. The character of K. was much misunderstood until the publication by R.M. Milnes, afterwards Lord Houghton (q.v.), of his Life and Letters, which gives an attractive picture of him. This, together with the accounts of other friends, represent him as “eager, enthusiastic, and sensitive, but humorous, reasonable, and free from vanity, affectionate, a good brother and friend, sweet-tempered, and helpful.” In his political views he was liberal, in his religious, indefinite. Though in his life-time subjected to much harsh and unappreciative criticism, his place among English poets is now assured. His chief characteristics are intense, sensuous imagination, and love of beauty, rich and picturesque descriptive power, and exquisitely melodious versification.

Life, Letters, etc., by R.M. Milnes (1848), Poems and Letters (Forman, 5 vols., 1900). Keats (Men of Letters Series, Colvin, 1887), etc. Poems (1817), Endymion (1818), Lamia and Other Poems (1820).

Keble, John (1792–1866). — Poet and divine, son of the Rev. John K., Vicar of Coln St. Aldwyn’s, Gloucestershire, born at Fairford in the same county, ed. by his father and at Oxford, where he was elected a Fellow of Oriel College, and was for some years tutor and examiner in the University. His ideal life, however, was that of a country clergyman, and having taken orders in 1815, he became curate to his father Meantime he had been writing The Christian Year, which appeared in 1827, and met with an almost unparalleled acceptance. Though at first anonymous, its authorship soon became known, with the result that K. was in 1831 appointed to the Chair of Poetry at Oxford, which he held until 1841. In 1833 his famous sermon on “national apostasy” gave the first impulse to the Oxford movement, of which, after the secession of Newman to the Church of Rome, he, along with Pusey, was regarded as the leader, and in connection with which he contributed several of the more important “tracts” in which were enforced “deep submission to authority, implicit reverence for Catholic tradition, firm belief in the divine prerogatives of the priesthood, the real nature of the sacraments, and the danger of independent speculation.” His father having died, K. became in 1836 Vicar of Hursley, near Winchester, where he remained until his death. In 1846 he published another book of poems, Lyra Innocentium. Other works were a Life of Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, and an ed. of the Works of Hooker. After his death appeared Letters of Spiritual Counsel, and 12 vols. of Parish Sermons. The literary position of K. must mainly rest upon The Christian Year, Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays, and Holidays throughout the Year, the object of which was, as described by the author, to bring the thoughts and feelings of the reader into unison with those exemplified in the Prayer Book. The poems, while by no means of equal literary merit, are generally characterised by delicate and true poetic feeling, and refined and often extremely felicitous language; and it is a proof of the fidelity to nature with which its themes are treated that the book has become a religious classic with readers far removed from the author’s ecclesiastical standpoint and general school of thought. K. was one of the most saintly and unselfish men who ever adorned the Church of England, and, though personally shy and retiring, exercised a vast spiritual influence upon his generation.

Life by J.D. Coleridge (1869), another by Rev. W. Lock (1895).

Keightley, Thomas (1789–1872). — Historian, ed. at Trinity College, Dublin, wrote works on mythology and folklore, and at the request of Dr. Arnold of Rugby, a series of text-books on English, Greek, and other histories. His History of Greece was translated into modern Greek. Among his other books are Fairy Mythology (1850), and Mythology of Ancient Greece and Italy, and a work on Popular Tales and their transmission from one country to another.

Keith, Robert (1681–1757). — Historian, born in Kincardineshire, belonged to the family of the Earls Marischal, and was Bishop of Fife in the Scottish Episcopal Church. He was deeply versed in Scottish antiquities, and published History of the Affairs of Church and State in Scotland during the Reformation. He also compiled A Catalogue of the Bishops of Scotland (1755).

Kelly, Hugh (1739–1777). — Dramatist, son of a Dublin publican, worked in London as a staymaker, 1760, and after ed. various journals, wrote Memoirs of a Magdalen (1767). His play, False Delicacy (1768), had an extraordinary success, and was translated into French, German, and Portuguese. His other plays had no great success. He left off writing for the stage in 1774, and endeavoured to practise as a barrister, but without success. He also wrote political pamphlets, for which he received a pension from Government.

Ken, Thomas (1637–1711). — Religious writer, son of an attorney, was born at Little Berkhampstead, ed. at Winchester and Oxford, and entering the Church received the living of Brightstone, Isle of Wight, where he composed his Morning, Evening, and Midnight Hymns, perhaps the most widely known of English hymns. These he was accustomed to sing daily to the lute. After holding other benefices he became Bishop of Bath and Wells, and a Chaplain to Charles II. He was one of the “Seven Bishops” sent to the Tower by James II. Refusing to take the oaths to William and Mary, he was deprived, and spent his later years in comparative poverty, though he found an asylum at Longleat with Lord Weymouth. Izaak Walton was his brother-inlaw. K. wrote a manual of prayers for Winchester School, and other devotional works.

Kennedy, John Pendleton (1795–1870). — Novelist, born in Baltimore, was distinguished as a lawyer and politician. He wrote three novels, Swallow Barn (1832), Horse Shoe Robinson (1835), and Rob of the Bowl (1838), which give a vivid presentation of life in the Southern States.

Kennedy, Walter (fl. 1500).S. of Lord K., was ed. at Glasgow, and is perhaps best known as Dunbar’s antagonist in the Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy. Other poems are Praise of Aige (Age), Ane Ballat in Praise of Our Lady, and The Passion of Christ. Most of his work is probably lost.

Killigrew, Thomas (1612–1683). — Dramatist, son of Sir Robert K., of Hanworth, was a witty, dissolute courtier of Charles II., and wrote nine plays, each in a different city. Of them the best known is The Parson’s Wedding.

King, Henry (1592–1669). — Poet, son of a Bishop of London, was ed. at Westminster School and Oxford He entered the Church, and rose in 1642 to be Bishop of Chichester. The following year he was deprived, but was reinstated at the Restoration. He wrote many elegies on Royal persons and on his private friends, who included Donne and Ben Jonson. A selection from his Poems and Psalms was published in 1843.

Kinglake, Alexander William (1809–1891). — Born near Taunton, ed. at Eton and Cambridge, was called to the Bar in 1837, and acquired a considerable practice, which in 1856 he abandoned in order to devote himself to literature and public life. His first literary venture had been Eothen, a brilliant and original work of Eastern travel, published in 1844; but his magnum opus was his Invasion of the Crimea, in 8 vols. (1863–87), which is one of the most effective works of its class. It has, however, been charged with being too favourable to Lord Raglan, and unduly hostile to Napoleon III., for whom the author had an extreme aversion. Its great length is also against it.

Kingsford, William (1819–1898). — Historian, born in London, served in the army, and went to Canada, where he was engaged in surveying work. He has a place in literature for his History of Canada in 10 vols., a work of careful research, though not distinguished for purely literary merits.

Kingsley, Charles (1819–1875). — Novelist and historian, son of a clergyman, was born at Holne Vicarage near Dartmoor, but passed most of his childhood at Barnack in the Fen country, and Clovelly in Devonshire, ed. at King’s College, London, and Cambridge Intended for the law, he entered the Church, and became, in 1842, curate, and two years later rector, of Eversley, Hampshire. In the latter year he published The Saints’ Tragedy, a drama, of which the heroine is St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Two novels followed, Yeast (1848) and Alton Locke (1850), in which he deals with social questions as affecting the agricultural labouring class, and the town worker respectively. He had become deeply interested in such questions, and threw himself heart and soul, in conjunction with F.D. Maurice and others, into the schemes of social amelioration, which they supported under the name of Christian socialism, contributing many tracts and articles under the signature of “Parson Lot.” In 1853 appeared Hypatia, in which the conflict of the early Christians with the Greek philosophy of Alexandria is depicted; it was followed in 1855 by Westward Ho, perhaps his most popular work; in 1857 by Two Years Ago, and in 1866 by Hereward the Wake. At Last (1870), gave his impressions of a visit to the West Indies. His taste for natural history found expression in Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore (1855), and other works. The Water Babies is a story for children written to inspire love and reverence of Nature. K. was in 1860 appointed to the Professorship of Modern History at Cambridge, which he held until 1869. The literary fruit of this was Roman and Teuton (1864). In the same year he was involved in a controversy with J.H. Newman, which resulted in the publication by the latter of his Apologia. K., who had in 1869 been made a Canon of Chester, became Canon of Westminster in 1873. Always of a highly nervous temperament, his over-exertion resulted in repeated failures of health, and he died in 1875. Though hot-tempered and combative, he was a man of singularly noble character. His type of religion, cheerful and robust, was described as “muscular Christianity.” Strenuous, eager, and keen in feeling, he was not either a profoundly learned, or perhaps very impartial, historian, but all his writings are marked by a bracing and manly atmosphere, intense sympathy, and great descriptive power.

Kingsley, Henry (1830–1876). — Novelist, brother of the above, ed. at King’s College, London, and Oxford, which he left without graduating, and betook himself to the Australian gold-diggings, being afterwards in the mounted police. On his return in 1858 he devoted himself industriously to literature, and wrote a number of novels of much more than average merit, including Geoffrey Hamlyn (1859), The Hillyars and the Burtons (1865), Ravenshoe (1861), and Austin Elliot (1863). Of these Ravenshoe is generally regarded as the best. In 1869 he went to Edinburgh to ed. the Daily Review, but he soon gave this up, and became war correspondent for his paper during the Franco–German War.

Kingsley, Mary Henrietta (1862–1900). — Traveller, daughter of George Henry K. (himself a traveller, and author of South Sea Bubbles, a very successful book), and niece of Charles K. (q.v.). She travelled in West Africa, where she made valuable observations and collections. Her Travels in West Africa is one of the most original and stimulating books of its class. Miss K. had a singular power of viewing the religious rites of savage peoples from their point of view. She was about to undertake another journey, but stopped to nurse Boer prisoners, and died of fever.

Kingston, William Henry Giles (1814–1880). — Writer of tales for boys, born in London, but spent much of his youth in Oporto, where his father was a merchant. His first book, The Circassian Chief, appeared in 1844. His first book for boys, Peter the Whaler, was published in 1851, and had such success that he retired from business and devoted himself entirely to the production of this kind of literature, in which his popularity was deservedly great; and during 30 years he wrote upwards of 130 tales, including The Three Midshipmen (1862), The Three Lieutenants (1874), The Three Commanders (1875), The Three Admirals (1877), Digby Heathcote, etc. He also conducted various papers, including The Colonist, and Colonial Magazine and East India Review. He was also interested in emigration, volunteering, and various philanthropic schemes. For services in negotiating a commercial treaty with Portugal he received a Portuguese knighthood, and for his literary labours a Government pension.

Kirkland, Joseph (1830–1894). — Novelist, born in New York State, was a lawyer in Chicago, then served in the war. He is remembered as the author of two very vivid and life-like novels of pioneer life in the Far West, Illinois Zury and The McVeys. Other works are The Captain of Company K. and The Story of Chicago.

Kitto, John (1804–1854). — Biblical scholar, son of a Cornish stonemason, was born at Plymouth. At the age of 12 a fall led to his becoming totally deaf. From poverty and hardship he was rescued by friends, to whom his mental powers had become known, and the means of education were placed within his reach. By these he profited so remarkably that he became a valuable contributor to Biblical scholarship. He travelled much in the East in the pursuit of his favourite studies. Among his works are Scripture Lands, Daily Bible Illustrations, and The Lost Senses in 2 vols., one dealing with Deafness and the other with Blindness. He also ed. The Pictorial Bible, The Journal of Sacred Literature, The Cyclopædia of Bible Literature, and contributed to various periodicals. He received a pension of £100 from Government. In 1844 the University of Giessen conferred upon him the degree of D.D.

Knight, Charles (1791–1873). — Publisher and writer, born at Windsor, where his father. was a bookseller. After serving his apprenticeship with him he went to London, and in 1823 started business as a publisher, and co-operated effectively with Brougham and others in connection with The Society for Diffusing Useful Knowledge. He was publisher for the Society, and issued The Penny Magazine, Penny Cyclopædia, Pictorial History of England, etc. He ed. with success The Pictorial Shakespeare, and was the author of a vol. of essays, Once upon a Time, an autobiography, Passages from a Working Life (1863), a History of the Thirty Years’ Peace, which was completed by Miss Harriet Martineau, and various other works.

Knight, Henry Gally (1786–1846). — A country gentleman of Yorkshire, ed. at Eton and Cambridge, was the author of several Oriental tales, Ilderim, a Syrian Tale (1816), Phrosyne, a Grecian Tale, and Alashtar, an Arabian Tale (1817). He was also an authority on architecture, and wrote various works on the subject, including The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Italy, and The Normans in Sicily, which brought him more reputation than his novels.

Knolles, Richard (1550?-1610). — Historian, born at Coldashby, Northamptonshire, and ed. at Oxford, published in 1603 The History of the Turks, which went through many ed. Its principal value now is as a piece of fine English of its time, for which it is ranked high by Hallam. K. was master of a school at Sandwich. The History was continued by Sir Paul Rycaut (1628–1700).

Knowles, Herbert (1798–1817). — Poet, author of the well-known Stanzas written in Richmond Churchyard, which gave promise of future excellence. But he died a few weeks after he had been enabled, through the help of Southey to whom he had sent some of his poems, to go to Cambridge

Knowles, James Sheridan (1784–1862). — Dramatist, son of James K., schoolmaster and lexicographer, was born at Cork. He was the author of a ballad, The Welsh Harper, which had great popularity, and gained for him the notice of Hazlitt and others. For some years he studied medicine, which, however, he abandoned for literature, and produced several plays, including Caius Gracchus (1815), Virginius (1820), The Hunchback (1832), and The Love Chase (1837), in some of which he acted. He gave up the stage in 1843, became a preacher in connection with the Baptist communion, and enjoyed great popularity. He published two polemical works, The Rock of Rome, and The Idol demolished by its own Priests.

Knox, John (1505?-1572). — Reformer and historian, was born near Haddington, and ed. at the Grammar School there and at Glasgow. He is believed to have had some connection with the family of K. of Ranfurly in Renfrewshire. The year of his birth was long believed to be 1505, but of late some writers have found reason to hold that he was really born some years later, 1510 or even 1513. At Glasgow he was the pupil of John Major (q.v.), and became distinguished as a disputant. He is believed to have been ordained a priest about 1530, after which he went to St. Andrews and taught. About this time, however, there is a gap of 12 years or more, during which almost nothing is known of his life. About 1545 he came under the influence of George Wishart, who was burned as a heretic at St. Andrews in the following year, and embraced the Reformation principles, of which he became a champion on the Continent, in England, and finally and especially in Scotland. He joined the reforming party in St. Andrews in 1547, and was, much against his will, elected their minister. The next year he was made prisoner, sent to France, and condemned to the galleys, where he remained for nearly two years. For the next five years he was in England, chiefly at Newcastle and Berwick, where he was zealously engaged in propagating and defending the reformed doctrines. On the accession of Mary in 1553 K. escaped to the Continent, where he remained — at Dieppe, Frankfort on the Maine, and Geneva — until 1559. During this period, in addition to his pastoral and ecclesiastical activities, he wrote copiously, the best known of his works of that time being his First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment [government] of Women. The first, it proved also the last, as he never produced the other two which he promised or threatened. He finally returned to Scotland in 1559, and was at once the chief actor and the chief narrator of the crowded and pregnant events which culminated in the abdication of Queen Mary and the establishment of Protestantism in Scotland. As minister of the High Church of Edinburgh K. was at the centre of events, which he probably did more to mould than any other man. As Carlyle says, “He is the one Scotchman to whom, of all others, his country and the world owe a debt.” Here, after his long battle with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, his triumphs, and disappointments, after growing weakness and becoming “weary of the world,” he died on November 24, 1572. His place in literature he has by virtue of his Historie of the Reformation in Scotland. It extends from 1558–67. Its language is much more English than that spoken and written in Scotland at the time. It is of the highest historical value, and in style terse, vigorous, with flashes of a quiet, somewhat saturnine humour, and of vivid description — the writing of a great man of action dealing with the events in which he had been the leading actor. His own figure and that of the Queen are those round which the drama turns. The leading features of his character were courage and intense earnestness. “Here,” said the Regent Morton, “lies a man who never feared the face of man.” And with all his sternness there was in him a vein of cordial friendliness and humour. He has been accused of intolerance, and of harshness in his dealings with the Queen. But as Carlyle has said, as regards the second accusation, “They are not so coarse, these speeches; they seem to me about as fine as the circumstances would permit. It was unfortunately not possible to be polite with the Queen of Scotland unless one proved untrue to the nation.”

Lives by M’Crie (1812), and Prof. Hume Brown (1895). Works ed. by D. Laing.

Knox, Vicesimus (1752–1821). — Essayist, etc., ed. at Oxford, took orders, and became Head Master of Tunbridge School. He published Essays Moral and Literary (1778), and compiled the formerly well-known Elegant Extracts, often reprinted.

Knox, William (1789–1825). — Poet, son of a farmer in Roxburghshire, wrote several books of poetry, The Lonely Hearth, Songs of Israel, Harp of Zion, etc., which gained him the friendship of Scott. He fell into dissipated habits, was latterly a journalist in Edinburgh, and died at 36.

Kyd, Thomas (1558–1595). — Dramatist, son of a London scrivener, ed. at Merchant Taylor’s School, appears to have led the life of hardship so common with the dramatists of his time, was for a short time imprisoned for “treasonable and Atheistic views,” and made translations from the French and Italian. His drama, The Spanish Tragedy (1594), had extraordinary popularity, and was translated into Dutch and German. Some of the scenes are believed to have been contributed by another hand, probably by Ben Jonson. He also produced a play on the story of Hamlet, not now in existence, and he may have written the first draft of Titus Andronicus. Other plays which have been attributed to him are The First Part of Jeronimo (1605), Cornelia (1594), The Rare Triumphs of Love and Fortune, and The Tragedye of Solyman and Perseda (1599). But, although one of the best known dramatists in his day, very little is now certain either as to his personal history or his works.


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