Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Atherstone, Edwin

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ATHERSTONE, EDWIN (1788–1872), a voluminous writer in verse and prose, was born on 17 April 1788. His first work was a poem entitled 'The Last Days of Herculaneum,' 1821. This was followed, in 1824, by 'A Midsummer Day's Dream.' In 1828 appeared the first six books of his chief work, 'The Fall of Niniveh.' Seven more books were published in 1847; and finally, in 1868, the whole work appeared complete in thirty books. Atherstone was a friend of John Martin, the painter; and the poet and painter worked in friendly rivalry. In 1830 he published an historical romance, 'The Sea Kings in England,' dealing with the times of Ælfred. His other romance is 'The Handwriting on the Wall,' 1858. Afterwards he returned to the writing of epics, and in 1861 was delivered of 'Israel in Egypt,' a poem not far short of twenty thousand lines. The grandiose scale on which his poems were planned attracted some ephemeral notice and applause. Atherstone died at Bath on 29 Jan. 1872. At the time of his death he was in receipt of a pension of 100l. a year.

[Athenæum, 10 Feb. 1872; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

A. H. B.