A Leigh Hunt First Edition
James Henry Leigh Hunt (1784-1859)was a major author during the Romantic movement in England during the early 19th century, but unlike most of his contemporaries, he is best known as an essayist rather than as a poet. He was a friend and contemporary of Lord Byron, P.B. Shelley, Jeremy Bentham, Charles Lamb, John Keats, and William Hazlitt, and Charles Dickens based his improvident character Harold Skimpole in Bleak House on Hunt.
With his reputation in decline, in 1828 Hunt wrote what would become perhaps the best known work of his career – and perhaps his greatest literary misstep. His account of his dealings with Lord Byron in Lord Byron and Some of His Contemporaries is far from flattering, and the ensuing scandal sunk Hunt’s reputation even lower than it was. Though his life was marked by controversy at every turn, late in life he would be celebrated as a man who intimately knew the world of the glamourous Romantic poets.
The Frellsen Fletcher Smith Collection contains a rare first edition of Lord Byron and Some of His Contemporaries.
- Dr. Rick Simmons, Department of English, Louisiana Tech University