William Tennant was born in Anstruther (Anster) Fifeshire, and studied for two years at the university of St. Andrews. He left to clerk for his brother, a corn factor, during which time he mastered Hebrew, German, and Italian. From the latter language he took the ottava rima of his "Anster Fair," anticipating the later burlesques by Frere and Byron. When the business failed, Anster found work as a schoolmaster in Dunino, near St. Andrews, afterwards at Lasswade (1816) and as headmaster at Dollar academy (1819). In 1834, under the patronage of Francis Jeffrey, he became professor of oriental languages at St. Andrews. Tennant, who was lame, sometimes employed the pseudonym "Crookleg."
Anster fair. 1812.
Elegy on trottin' Nancy. 1814.
The dominie's disaster: and other poems. 1816.
The Gentle Shepherd [by Allan Ramsay, preface by Tennant]. 1819.
The Thane of Fife a poem, in six cantos. 1822.
Cardinal Beaton: a drama in five acts. 1823.
Papistry storm'd, or, The dingin' down o' the cathedral ane poem, in sax sangs. 1827.
John Baliol: an historical drama in five acts. 1825.
Critical remarks on the Psalms of David. 1830.
Synopsis of Chaldaic and Syriac grammar. 1840.
Hebrew dramas: founded on incidents of Bible-history. 1845.
The comic poems of William Tennant, ed. A. Scott and M. Lindsay. 1989.