Thomas Warton was descended from an ancient and honorable family in England, and his father was a clergyman of the Established Church. The poet was educated at Oxford University, which he entered at the age of sixteen, and of which he continued "a member and an ornament," for forty-seven years. He was elected Professor of Poetry in 1757, and Professor of History in 1785. His most important productions are his Observations of Spenser, in two volumes, and the History of English Poetry, first published in three volumes, which he did not live to complete according to his original plan.
He was a man of great and various, erudition, an acute critic, an able antiquary, and a poet of considerable though not often original genius. A few of his compositions are very beautiful, exhibiting a refined taste, and affording some uncommonly natural and pleasing rural pictures. The moral influence of his poetry is always virtuous.
His personal character was gentle, friendly, and forgiving. He was equable in his temper, tenderhearted, peculiarly affectionate to children, and generally humane. He enjoyed broad humour and a hearty laugh, and in these respects exhibited some amusing eccentricities. "During his visits to his brother, Dr. Joseph Warton, the reverend professor became an associate and confidant in all the sports of the school boys. When engaged with them in some culinary operation, and when alarmed by the sudden approach of the master, he has been known to hide himself in a dark corner of the kitchen, and has been dragged from thence by the Doctor, who had taken him for some great boy. He also used to help the boys in their exercises, generally putting in as many faults as would disguise the assistance."