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William Knighton

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Published : 2 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : N/A
Death : N/A
Views : 2558

Writer. Government official in India. Born in Dublin. According to  Frederic Boase, Modern English  Biography (1892-1921), Knighton was educated at University of Glasgow, may have been, but details of education (also certain other details) inaccurate in Boase. Obtained Ph.D. from Giessen University, 1851 (information from Justus Liebig-Universit√§t), but did not style himself "Ph.D." on title pages of his books: (On Englishmen's obtaining Ph.D.'s from Giessen and other German universities, see the H.W. articles "Doctor of Philosophy" and "Twenty Guinea Diplomas"). Styled himself "M.A." for the first time on title page of Forest Life in Ceylon, 1854; on title pages of books' published in the "1860s and thereafter, styled himself "L.L.D".


Stated: "I had but just completed my nineteenth year, when I first landed in Ceylon" in 1843; stayed there for four years, first as manager of coffee-estate, then as editor of Ceylon Herald. Went to Calcutta; was lecturer on history and logic at the Hindu College; also editor of a newspaper (Tropical Sketches; Forest Life in Ceylon); "lived in Ceylon and Calcutta for seven years and a half" (The Policy of the Future in India, p. 5). At various times in the 1850s lived in London "attempting literary essays" and lecturing on education; became acquainted with the Carlyles; spent many evenings with them ("Conversations with Carlyle", Contemporary Review, June 1881). In 1859 or 1860, appointed assistant commissioner in Oudh; held commissionership to (apparently) 1868. After his retirement lived in England.

Contributed occasional articles to Illustrated Magazine of Art, Fraser's, Contemporary Review, Nineteenth Century; some of his papers read before the Royal Society of Literature were published in Society's Transactions. His books included, in addition to those mentioned above, The History of Ceylon, 1845; The Private Life of an Eastern King, 1855; Edgar Bardoni: An Autobiographical Novel, 1856; Elihu Jan's Story, 1865; Struggles for Life, 1886.

Knighton's best known book, The Private Life of an Eastern King, was the subject of the H.W. article "An Indian Court Circular". The article quoted extracts from the book and referred readers to its "strange but truthful pages".

In "Conversations with Carlyle", Knighton mentioned his talking with Mrs. Carlyle "about a paper of mine that had recently appeared in Household Words on 'The Buried City of Ceylon'". The Office Book assigns the article to "Kingston".

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

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