A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Akenside, Mark

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Akenside, Mark (1721-1770).—Poet, s. of a butcher at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, gave early indications of talent, and was sent to the University of Edinburgh with the view of becoming a dissenting minister. While there, however, he changed his mind and studied for the medical profession. Thereafter he went to Leyden, where he took his degree of M.D. in 1744. While there he wrote his principal poem, The Pleasures of the Imagination, which was well received, and was subsequently translated into more than one foreign language. After trying Northampton, he settled as a physician in London; but was for long largely dependent for his livelihood on a Mr. Dyson. His talents brought him a good deal of consideration in society, but the solemn and pompous manner which he affected laid him open to some ridicule, and he is said to have been satirised by Smollett (q.v.) in his Peregrine Pickle. He endeavoured to reconstruct his poem, but the result was a failure. His collected poems were pub. 1772. His works, however, are now little read. Mr. Gosse has described him as "a sort of frozen Keats."