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David Irving (1778-1860) - Biographer

He was born on 5th December 1778 at Langholm and was educated at the University of Edinburgh. Abandoning thoughts of a career in the ministry of the Church of Scotland, Irving turned his hand to literature, and after imperfect attempts to write lives of Robert Fergusson and William Falconer, he produced his Lives of the Scottish Poets (1804), which is still a standard guide to Scottish literary biography. After a period spent tutoring he was appointed librarian to the Faculty Of Advocates in 1820, a post he held until 1848. He died on 11 May 1860 in Edinburgh. In his later years Irving edited several texts for the Maitland Club and the Bannatyne Club, and contributed to the seventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His History of Scottish Poetry, published posthumously in 1861, remains a useful introduction especially to the poetry of the medieval period.

Works: Life of Robert Fergusson (1799); Three Sketches (1800); Elements of English Composition (1801); The Lives of the Scottish Poets (1804); Life of George Bucfianan (1805); Lives of Scottish Writers, 2 vols. (1839); History of Scottish Poetry (1861).

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