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Smith, Alexander

SMITH, ALEXANDER (1830-1867), Scottish poet, son of a lace-designer, was born at Kilmarnock on the 31st of December 1830. His parents being too poor to send him to college, he was placed in a linen factory to follow his father's trade of a pattern designer. His early poems appeared in the Glasgow Citizen, in whose editor, James Hedderwick, he found a sympathizing and appreciative friend. A Life Drama and other Poems (1853) was a work of promise, ran through several editions, and gained Smith the appointment of secretary to Edinburgh University in 1854. As a poet he was one of the leading representatives of what was called the " Spasmodic " School, now fallen into oblivion. Smith, P. J. Bailey and Sydney Dobell were satirized by W. E. Aytoun in 1854 in Firmilian: a Spasmodic Tragedy. In the same year Sydney Dobell came to Edinburgh, and an acquaintanceship at once sprang up between the two, which resulted in their collaboration in a book of War Sonnets (1855), inspired by the Crimean War. After publishing City Poems (1857) and Edwin of Deira (1861), a Northumbrian epic poem, Smith turned his attention to prose, and published Dreamthorp: Essays written in the Country (1863) and A Summer in Skye. His last work was an experiment in fiction, Alfred Hagart's Household (1866), which ran first through Good Words. He died on the 5th of January 1867.

A memoir of Smith by P. P. Alexander was prefixed to a volume entitled Last Leaves.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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