1877 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Atkinson of Glasgow

James Grant Wilson, in Poetry of Scotland (1877) 2:230-31.



THOMAS ATKINSON was born at Glasgow, December 30, 1801. He was apprenticed to a bookseller, and subsequently entered into partnership with David Robertson, a Glasgow bookseller and publisher. Although engrossed with the management of an extensive business, Atkinson found time to cultivate his taste for literature, and made his first appearance as a writer by the publication of The Sextuple Alliance, a series of poems on the subject of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1826-27 he edited and issued The Ant, a work in two volumes, comprising original and selected matter. His next publication was The Chameleon, a work of the character of the annuals of that day, which commenced in 1831 and extended to three volumes. The contents of this handsome work were mostly his own composition, and many of his songs were set to music by himself. Atkinson was a keen politician of the Liberal school, and distinguished as a public speaker. He was an unsuccessful candidate for parliament at the election held subsequent to the passing of the first reform bill, and the exertions of his political canvass produced an illness which terminated in pulmonary disease.

He died October 10, 1833, during a voyage to Barbadoes for the restoration of his health, and was buried at sea. A monument to his memory was erected in the Necropolis of his native city. He left a considerable sum of money to accumulate for a time in the hands of the city corporation, and then to be applied in the erection of a building in Glasgow for scientific purposes, to be called the Atkinsonian Institution.