Kinglake, Alexander William, 1809-1891

Alternative names
Birth 1809-08-05
Death 1891-01-02

Biographical notes:

Alexander William Kinglake (1809-1891) trained as a barrister, but was more interested in literature. He became famous after the publication of Eothen in 1844, a narrative of his travels in the Middle East. He was fascinated by military action, and went to Algeria in 1845 to witness the French campaign. In August 1854 he set off from London to follow the British Army to the Crimea, where he witnessed the Battle of the Alma (20 September), before falling sick and leaving for England on 18 October. After Lord Raglan's death in 1856, he was asked by Lady Raglan to write the history of the Crimean War, and was given the use of Lord Raglan's papers. The task occupied most of the rest of his life, and resulted in The invasion of the Crimea, published in eight volumes, 1863-1887. For this work, Kinglake interviewed and corresponded with many of the participants in the campaign and obtained detailed accounts of battles and manoeuvres.

From the guide to the Alexander William Kinglake: Crimean War papers, 1854-1868, (Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives)

English travel writer and historian.

From the description of Alexander William Kinglake letters, 1874-1890. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 122502132

English historian of the Crimean War.

From the description of Autograph letters signed (2) : to Mr. Brookfield, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270491972

Alexander William Kinglake, English historian and travel writer.

From the description of Alexander William Kinglake manuscript material : 1 item, 1856 (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 504227998

English historian.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : London, to Sir Henry Rawlinson, [no year] Nov. 11. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270488312

Epithet: LL.D

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000695.0x000166

Alexander William Kinglake (1809-1891) was the second child and eldest son of William Kinglake, banker and solicitor of Taunton, and his wife Mary Woodforde. He was born on 5 August 1809, educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (BA, 1832; MA, 1836), and was called to the Bar in 1837. In 1844 his book Eothen, a light-hearted account of a journey in the Levant, was published and was an immediate success.

Kinglake's interest in military affairs led him to visit Algeria in 1845 to witness the French campaigns, and to follow the British army to the Crimea in 1854. After Lord Raglan's death in 1856, Lady Raglan asked Kinglake to write a history of the war, and the task occupied him for much of the rest of his life. The first two volumes of The invasion of the Crimea were published in 1863, and the eighth and last volume in 1887.

In 1857 Kinglake was elected Member of Parliament for Bridgewater, in the Liberal interest, and served until 1868, when he was unseated and the borough disfranchised after an enquiry into electoral malpractice.

Kinglake led a comfortable bachelor life in London, and enjoyed the friendship of many of the leading literary and political figures of the day, including William Makepeace Thackeray, Alfred Tennyson, and Lord John Russell. In particular he was on terms of mutual admiration with a number of literary ladies: Caroline Norton, Lucie Duff Gordon, Margaret Oliphant, Mary Singleton ('Violet Fane'), and Janet Ross. In the late 1880s he developed cancer of the throat and he died on 2 January 1891.

From the guide to the Alexander William Kinglake: Letters and Papers, 1819-1891, (Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives)


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  • War
  • Historians--19th century--Correspondence
  • Travel writers--19th century--Correspondence
  • Authors and publishers
  • Politics
  • Travel abroad
  • Crimean War, 1853-1856
  • Authors, English--19th century--Correspondence


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  • Spain (as recorded)
  • Switzerland (as recorded)
  • Wales (as recorded)
  • Turkey (as recorded)
  • Crimea (Khanate) (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • France (as recorded)
  • Scio, Greece (as recorded)
  • Crimea Ukraine (as recorded)
  • Africa, North (as recorded)
  • Algeria (as recorded)