The son of a vintner, William Tooke studied with John Shield at his Islington Academy; in 1771 he was ordained and became chaplain to the English Factory at Kronstadt, near St. Petersburg; from 1774 to 1791 he was English chaplain at St. Petersburg. He became a member of Jesus College, Cambridge in 1784. On receiving a legacy he retired to London in 1792, undertaking scholarly projects including a revision of the General Biographical Dictionary.
Antient Funeral Monuments of Great-Britain [John Weever, ed. Tooke.] 1767.
The loves of Othniel and Achsah: translated from the Chaldee. 1769.
Mary Magdalene's funeral tears [Robert Southwell, ed. Tooke.] 1772.
Pieces written by Mons. Falconet and Mons. Diderot on sculpture in general. 1777.
Russia, or, A Compleat Historical Account of All the Nations which Compose that Empire [Georgi, trans. Tooke.] 1780-83.
Moral and philosophical estimates of the state and faculties of man; and of the nature and source of human happiness. 4 vols, 1789.
Moral and philosophical suggestions on various subjects related to human perfection and happiness. 4 vols, 1790.
Varieties of literature from foreign literary journals and original MSS. 2 vols, 1795.
The general biographical dictionary, ed. Tooke. 15 vols, 1795.
Private history of Peregrinus Proteus the philosopher [Wieland, trans. Tooke.] 1796.
The Life of Catharine II, Empress of Russia. 1798.
History of Russia from the foundation of the monarchy by Rurik to the accession of Catharine the Great. 1800.
The picture of Petersburg: from the German of Henry Storch. 1801.
Poetical works of Charles Churchill, ed. Tooke. 2 vols, 1804.
Devotional Prayers and Exercises [Zollikofer, trans. Tooke.] 1815.
Lucian of Samosata: from the Greek [trans. Tooke.] 2 vols, 1820.