1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Smith, Alexander
SMITH, ALEXANDER (1830-1867), Scottish poet, son of a lace-designer, was born at Kilmarnock on the 31st of December 1830. His parents being too poor to send him to college, he was placed in a linen factory to follow his father's trade of a pattern designer. His early poems appeared in the Glasgow Citizen, in whose editor, James Hedderwick, he found a sympathizing and appreciative friend. A Life Drama and other Poems (1853) was a work of promise, ran through several editions, and gained Smith the appointment of secretary to Edinburgh University in 1854. As a poet he was one of the leading representatives of what was called the “Spasmodic” School, now fallen into oblivion. Smith, P. J. Bailey and Sydney Dobell were satirized by W. E. Aytoun in 1854 in Firmilian: a Spasmodic Tragedy. In the same year Sydney Dobell came to Edinburgh, and an acquaintanceship at once sprang up between the two, which resulted in their collaboration in a book of War Sonnets (1855), inspired by the Crimean War. After publishing City Poems (1857) and Edwin of Deira (1861), a Northumbrian epic poem, Smith turned his attention to prose, and published Dreamthorp: Essays written in the Country (1863) and A Summer in Skye. His last work was an experiment in fiction, Alfred Hagart's Household (1866), which ran first through Good Words. He died on the 5th of January 1867.