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Frederick Knight Hunt

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Published : 20 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : 3/4/1814
Death : 18/11/1854
Views : 2298

Journalist. Educated himself largely by wide reading. Worked as printer's boy, also as clerk to a barrister, through whom he obtained a connection with a newspaper. Meanwhile studied medicine at Middlesex Hospital. M.R.C.S. 1840. Established Medical Times, 1839; forced by financial or other difficulties to relinquish the periodical. Was for a year medical officer to a poor-law union in Norfolk; thereafter returned to London. Subeditor, then editor, of Pictorial Times. Brought out Hunt's London Journal, 1844. On establishment of Daily News, was engaged as provincial editor of the periodical; editor, 1851 to his death. Author of The Rhine: Its Scenery and Historical & Legendary Associations, 1845, dedicated by special permission to Queen Victoria; The Fourth Estate: Contributions towards a History of Newspapers, 1850, his only important writing.


Vizetelly (Glances Back through Seventy Years, I, 247) stated that his recommendation of Hunt to Wills led to Dickens's appointment of Hunt to the Daily News staff. Hunt, in The Fourth Estate (II, 189), mentioned the Daily News as starting "with the prestige of a highly popular literary name, and with a staff of writers such as no previous Paper had ever mustered to prepare a first number"—the latter comment implying a compliment to Hunt himself. Occasional other references to Dickens also appear in The Fourth Estate.

Hunt wrote for H.W. during the first two years of its publication. In addition to contributing himself, he secured from his friend Robert McCormick an article for the 1850 Christmas number. Dickens thought highly of Hunt's work for H.W. In a letter to Horne, March 18 1851, he wrote that what Hunt and Morley "have done for us (especially Mr Hunt) has unquestionably done us very good service indeed". Hunt's "Swinging the Ship" Dickens thought a very good article (to Wills, July 12 1850). Curiously, payment for most of Hunt's contributions was less than the standard payment. For a 6-column article, for instance, Hunt was paid £2.10.0, instead of the standard £3.3.0; for a 16-column article, £7.0.0, instead of the standard £8.8.0.

Wills's H.W. article "Newspaper Antecedents" was based in part on Hunt's Fourth Estate; "The Appetite for News", also by Wills, quoted a paragraph from the same book. "Greenwich Weather-Wisdom" is unassigned in the Office Book, the title of the article being repeated in the author-column. The article is by Hunt, as proved by comments in it and in a preceding and a following article by Hunt. "The Planet-Watchers of Greenwich", an account of the Greenwich Observatory, states that the meteorological branch of the Observatory is "to be spoken of hereafter". The meteorological branch is the subject of "Greenwich Weather-Wisdom" in the following H.W. number. That article, in turn, contains a reference to the preceding article. "The Registrar-General on 'Life' in London" again refers to "Greenwich Weather-Wisdom".

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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