A brilliant biography of one of England's most outrageous and cleverest intellectual and artistic figures.
He sends well-headed and well-feathered thoughts straight towards the mark with a twang of the bow-string. S.T. Coleridge
Hazlitt was not one of those non-committal writers who shuffle off in a mist and die of their own insignificance. His essays are emphatically himself ... So thin is the veil of the essay as Hazlitt wore it, his very look comes before us. Virginia Woolf
William Hazlitt is England's greatest essayist. He was also a philosopher, a painter, a controversialist and a radical, whose critical writings about literature, the theatre and art were ardently admired in his day. He is the author of the first confessional autobiography of sexual passion, a biographer of Napoleon, a friend of, and profound influence upon, Keats, Stendhal, and Charles Lamb, a friend and later enemy of Coleridge, Wordsworth, and De Quincy, and a key figure in the intellectual life of Regency England. His life was lived against the backdrop of the French Revolution and subsequent Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with their associated political and literary radicalism in England.
A. C. Grayling, himself a philosopher, critic and essayist, tells the story of Hazlitt's life and work in the setting of its disturbed times, making a great writer once again accessible by showing how his work and life interpret each other. His disastrous love-life and his passionate philosophical convictions are closely allied, making him a complex writer of great power.