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- May 29th 2008
(first published 1844)
Alexander William Kinglake
- Date of birth: August 05, 1809
- Died: January 02, 1891
- Born: in Taunton, Somerset, England.
- Description: Alexander William Kinglake was an English travel writer and historian.
He was born near Taunton, Somerset and educated at Eton College, Cambridge. He was called to the Bar in 1837, and built up a thriving legal practice, which in 1856 he abandoned in order to devote himself to literature and public life.
His first literary venture had been Eothen; or Traces of travel brought home from the East, (London: J. Ollivier, 1844), a very popular work of Eastern travel, apparently first published anonymously, in which he described a journey he made about ten years earlier in Syria, Palestine and Egypt, together with his Eton contemporary Lord Pollington. Elliot Warburton said it evoked "the East itself in vital actual reality" and it was instantly successful. However, his magnum opus was his Invasion of the Crimea, in 8 volumes, published from 1863 to 1887 by Blackwood, Edinburgh, one of the most effective works of its class. It has been accused of being too favourable to Lord Raglan, and unduly hostile to Napoleon III, for whom the author had an extreme aversion.
The town of Kinglake in Victoria, Australia, and the adjacent national park are named after him.
A Whig, Kinglake was elected at the 1857 general election as one of the two Members of Parliament (MP) for Bridgwater, having unsuccessfully contested the seat in 1852. He was returned at next two general elections, but the result of the 1868 general election in Bridgwater was voided on petition on 26 February 1869. No by-election was held, and after a Royal Commission found that there had extensive corruption, the town was disenfranchised in 1870.