1912 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Kennedy

D. J. O'Donoghue, in Poets of Ireland (1912) 231-32.



Born near Dublin (it is said) on December 26, 1799, and was a student of Belfast College in 1819. Was intended for the ministry in Scotland, it being said that he was left his father's property at Aughnacloy on condition that he was ordained, but he later adopted the journalistic profession. Became an editor in Paisley, Scotland (where he was associated with Wm. Motherwell, in the management of The Paisley Magazine) and afterwards in Hull. He edited The Continental Annual in 1832, and wrote a good many stories and poems for other annuals, such as The Amulet, 1829-31. He published a prose story, entitled, "My Early Days," before he was 25, and another prose story, entitled, An Only Son, 1831, like the first-named, anonymous. His first volume of poems was a remarkable success. He went to Canada, as Secretary to Lord Durham, and soon after became British Consul at Texas, U.S.A., which gave him the leisure and materials for his Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic of Texas, two volumes, London, 1841. He retired from the Consulship in 1847, and came to England. Appleton's American Biography says he died near London in 1849. As a matter of fact, he died in Paris in 1871, having been a confirmed invalid for years. Wilson's Poets and Poetry of Scotland, makes the statement that he was born in Paisley, and others besides Scotch editors have followed suit. Ayrshire is also given as the place of his birth, but his intimates referred to him as a native of Ireland. In one of his poems Kennedy suggests Co. Tyrone as his place of origin. His contemporary, George Gilfallen, thus refers to him in The History of a Man, "A frank, clever, social Irishman, the life of every company;" and he was known in Paisley as "the young Irishman." See Athenaeum for 1832, page 158; Jerdan's Autobiography, etc. He was perhaps connected with the Dr. Kennedy who went to Greece with Lord Byron, as the Rev. William McIlwane, of Aughnacloy, has original letters of that member of the family.