Edward Young Biography


Birthday: July 3, 1683 (Cancer)

Born In: Upham

Edward Young was one of the most prominent English poets of 18th century. He attended Winchester College and earned his degree from New College, Oxford. He was nominated for a law fellowship at ‘All Souls’ by Archbishop Tenison and earned the degree of D.C.L. Throughout his life, he sought patronages for his work and came to be known for his theatrical works and his services to the church. He failed mainly because he picked patrons whose fortunes were declining and continued to seek preferment until the end of his life. He married Lady Elizabeth Lee, daughter of the First Earl of Lichfield who had been formerly married to her cousin Francis Lee and had a daughter. ‘Night-Thoughts’, considered among his most important works, was written in memory of his wife and step-daughter who died within years of each other. It is also known for the major series of illustrations by William Blake. His series of seven satires first appeared on ‘The Universal Passion’ which was later compiled into ‘Love of Fame, the Universal Passion’. His ‘The Conjectures’ was a declaration of independence debunked absolutism and classicism and was hailed as a masterpiece in the history of English literary criticism. It also went on to inspire the ‘Sturm-und-Drang’ movement in Germany.
Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In July

Died At Age: 81


Spouse/Ex-: Elizabeth Lee

father: Edward Young,

Quotes By Edward Young Poets

Died on: April 5, 1765

place of death: Welwyn

More Facts

education: New College, Oxford, Corpus Christi College, Oxford, Winchester College

Childhood & Early Life
Edward Young was born in 1683 to Edward Young, and was baptized on 3 July1683. He attended the Winchester College and later matriculated from New College, Oxford.
After shifting to Corpus Christi, at the behest of Archbishop Tenison, he was awarded a law fellowship at ‘All Souls’. He earned his Doctor of Civil Law degree in 1719.
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Edward Young’s first publication was an ‘Epistle to… Lord Lansdoune’ written in 1713, followed by a ‘Poem on the Last Day’, dedicated to Queen Anne.
In 1714, he published ‘The Force of Religion: or Vanquished Love’ which was dedicated to the Countess of Salisbury. It was about the execution of Lady Jane Grey and her husband.
He wrote an epistle to Joseph Addison, ‘On the late Queen’s Death and His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne’ in 1714, in which he hurried to shower praise on the new king.
He met Philip, Duke of Wharton, whom he accompanied to Dublin in 1717. In the following years, he produced the play, ‘Busiris’. His play ‘Revenge’ was dedicated to Wharton.
Wharton had promised him two annuities of £100 each and £600 as expenditure. After Wharton failed to pay, Young pleaded his case before Lord Chancellor Hardwicke in 1740, but gained only the annuity.
From 1725 to 1728, he published a series of seven satires on “The Universal Passion” dedicated to the Duke of Dorset, George Bubb Dodington, Sir Spencer Compton, Lady Elizabeth Germain and Sir Robert Walpole.
In 1726, he received a pension of £200 a year through Walpole. He continued to seek preferment until the end of his life, but the king regarded his pension as adequate settlement.
Young was known for seeking patronage for his poetry, his theatrical works, and his career in the church. However, he failed mainly because he picked patrons whose fortunes were declining.
In 1728, his satires were compiled into the collection, “Love of Fame, the Universal Passion”. He also became a royal chaplain. Two years later, he obtained the college living of Welwyn, Hertfordshire.
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“The Conjectures” was a declaration of independence against the tyranny of classicism, and was considered a milestone in the history of English, and European, literary criticism. It was translated into German with favorable reviews.
His writings in the late 1720s include “The Instalment”, “Cynthio”, “A Vindication of Providence “, a sermon, and “An Apology for Punch”, a sermon.
In the 1730s, his publications included “Imperium Pelagi, a Naval Lyrick”, “Two Epistles to Mr. Pope concerning the Authors of the Age”, “A Sea-Piece”, and “The Foreign Address, or The Best Argument for Peace”
His other works include “The Centaur not Fabulous; in Five Letters to a Friend”, “An Argument... for the Truth of His [Christ’s] Religion”, a sermon preached before the king, and “Resignation”, a poem.
Major Works
Young’s “The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality”, famously known as “Night-Thoughts”, is a long poem written in blank verse published in nine parts in the years starting from 1742 to 1745.
In 1759, he published the critical prose, “Conjectures on Original Composition”. In which he emphasized the importance of originality being more valuable than classic indoctrination or imitation.
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1731, he married Lady Elizabeth Lee, daughter of the Earl of Lichfield. She was the widow of Colonel Francis Lee, also her cousin, and had a daughter by him who married Henry Temple.
He had a son named Frederick who was rather ill-mannered. Edward Young refused to see him until before his death when he forgave his son, and bequeath everything he had to him.
Mrs. Temple and Lady Elizabeth Young died within a few years of each other. These successive deaths are supposed to be the events referred to in “Night Thoughts”.
The poem “Night Thoughts” by this famous poet, gives us the famous adage “procrastination is the thief of time”, when the poet reflects on how quickly life and opportunities can slip away.

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