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The Wit In The Dungeon: The Life of Leigh Hunt

Anthony Holden

4 Reviews

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Biography: general, Biography: literary, Prose: non-fiction

Masterly biography of Leigh Hunt - publisher, poet, critic and Republican, and the mentor of Keats and Shelley

He was born in the year Dr Johnson died, and died in the year A.E. Houseman and Conan Doyle were born. The 75 years of Leigh Hunt's life uniquely span two distinct eras of English life and literature. A major player in the Romantic movement, the intimate and first publisher of Keats and Shelley, friend of Byron, Hazlitt and Lamb, Hunt lived on to become an elder statesman of Victorianism, the friend and champion of Tennyson and Dickens, awarded a sate pension by Queen Victoria. Jailed in his twenties for insulting the Prince of Wales, Hunt ended his long, productive life vainly seeking the Poet Laureatship with fawning poems to Victoria. A tirelessly prolific poet, essayist, editor and critic, he has been described as having no rival in the history of English criticism. Yet Hunt's remarkable life story has never been fully told.

Anthony Holden's deeply researched and vibrantly written biography gives full due to this minor poet - but major influence on his great Romantic contemporaries.

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Praise for The Wit In The Dungeon: The Life of Leigh Hunt

  • [Holden is] courageous in his assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Hunt as a poet . . . he also gives us some fascinating new material - Michael Glover, FT MAGAZINE

  • I am tearing through THE WIT IN THE DUNGEON with avaricious pleasure . . . Gripping and wonderful - Stephen Fry

  • Anthony Holden's THE WIT IN THE DUNGEON is a more concise single-volume account of Hunt's eventful political life . . . it is Holden, surveying the whole life, who tells the best stories . . . Holden's biography is concise and unfailingly readable - Andrew Biswell, SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY

  • Roe leaves Hunt on the beach at Viaregio, watching the flames play over the body of his heart's darling, Shelley. If you want to know what Hunt did next, then you must turn to Holden . . . vivid and dramatic - Suzi Feay, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

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Anthony Holden

Anthony Holden is an award-winning journalist who has published more than thirty books, including biographies of Laurence Olivier, Tchaikovsky and Shakespeare. He has published translations of opera, ancient Greek plays and poetry. With his son Ben, he has edited Poems That Make Grown Men Cry and Poems That Make Grown Women Cry.

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