Poet, novelist, and miscellaneous writer, Cunningham (1784-1842) was born of humble parentage in Dumfrieshire, Scotland. He began life as a stone-mason: in 1810 he repaired to London, got an appointment of trust in the studio of the sculptor Chantrey, and there settled for life. He had early shown a taste for literature, and written for the magazines of the day. His taste and attainments in the fine arts were remarkable. His warm heart, his upright, independent character, attracted the affectionate esteem of all who enjoyed his acquaintance. He left four sons — Joseph D., Alexander, Peter, and Francis — all of whom have won distinction in literature. Cunningham was the author of Paul Jones, a successful romance (1826); and from 1829 to 1833 he produced for Murray's Family Library his most esteemed prose work, The Lives of the most eminent British Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, in six volumes.