William Maginn

William Maginn
Birth and death
1794 - 1842
Profession details
Writer, Poet
Related place
Alistair Grant

William Maginn (1794-1842), writer and poet. Maginn wrote for Blackwood's and the recently founded evening Standard in the late 1820s. In 1829 Maginn persuaded a lawyer friend, Hugh Fraser, to fund himself and James Fraser (no relation) to Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country, the first issue of which was printed in February 1830. Maginn was chiefly responsible for its direction and content, and wrote many of its articles. After a slow start it gained a reputation for scurrility -- including occasional hoaxes and libels -- and challenging new writing. It was the first to publish Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus. Its most popular feature was the 'Gallery of illustrious literary characters' (collected into a book of 1873), which gave short, savage prose sketches by Maginn with portraits by Daniel Maclise. Many of Fraser's contributors were Scots or Irish. It later discovered Thackeray, who was to base Captain Shandon in 'Pendenni's on Maginn. Maginn became one of the best known and influential literary figures in London, though he avoided publishing books and enjoyed writing with anonymity. Lacking the funds to travel to the warmer climate his doctors recommended, the Maginns went instead to a little village in Surrey. By early 1840s he was suffering from tuberculosis and in 1842 moved to Cypress Lodge in Walton-on-Thames. He wrote: 'Here I am at Walton-on-Thames, coughing my heart up. The doctors think I am going to die'. He was buried on 29th August in a pauper's grave in the churchyard of the church of St Mary.

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