Cunningham, Allan, 1784-1842

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1784-12-07
Death 1842-10-30
Britons
English, German

Biographical notes:

Allan Cunningham was a Scottish author. Trained as a stonemason, he made a name for himself by passing off his own poetry as a collection of traditional Scottish ballads. As a professional man of letters, he had diverse interests, writing plays, novels, short stories, collecting and editing anthologies, and writing biographies and other nonfiction, but was probably most successful as a poet.

From the description of Allan Cunningham letters, 1825-1839. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 53148150

Scottish poet.

From the description of Song of Richard Faulder : autograph manuscript copy of the poem : [London], [1821 or later]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270539076

British poet and art historian Allan Cunningham was born on 7 December, 1784 at Keir, Dumfriesshire. In 1814, Cunningham made the acquaintance of the sculptor Sir Francis Chancery who agreed to employ the struggling writer as his superintendent of works. While working for Chancery, Cunningham continued writing and began to publish his works. Between 1829 and 1833 Cunningham produced his six volume work, Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors and Architects, which benefited greatly from the author's personal connection and intimacy with many of his subjects. The last work to appear in his lifetime was a biography of Robert Burns, published in 1834. A biography of Sir David Wilkie, composed during the last years of Cunningham's life appeared posthumously.

From the description of Allan Cunningham papers, 1815-1841. (Rice University). WorldCat record id: 56771962

Scotch poet.

From the description of The Mariner : autograph poem, signed. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270538314

From the description of Autograph letter signed : to Wm. Jordan, 1828 Oct. 15. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270529056

Allan Cunningham (1784-1842), the poet and songwriter, was born in Dumfriesshire, on 7 December 1784. He is the author of The life of Burns. It is possible that his correspondent, Mrs. Jameson is the author Anna Brownell Jameson.

From the description of Letter, 1839 August 24, Belgrave Place to Mrs. Jameson. (University of South Carolina). WorldCat record id: 159919242

Allan Cunningham was a diverse and prolific English author. Born in Scotland, he and his family overcame lower-class circumstances with ability and effort. He worked a variety of jobs, including stonemasonry, and assistant to sculptor Francis Chantrey, while publishing poetry and the songbook Remains of Nithsdale and Gaolloway Song, ostensibly a collection of folk songs but actually Cunningham's original compositions. He made numerous literary contacts, published biographies of Walter Scott and Robert Burns, and wrote an extensive work on British literature. An engaging writer with good descriptive qualities, he also wrote novels, stories, and other non-fiction, but is perhaps best remembered for his poems, many in Scots vernacular.

From the description of Allan Cunningham letters, poem, and portrait, 1811-1826. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 61104034

Allan Cunningham, Scottish poet and songwriter.

From the description of Allan Cunningham manuscript material : 3 items, 1830-1841 (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 154723211

From the guide to the Allan Cunningham manuscript material : 3 items, 1830-1841, (The New York Public Library. Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle.)

Scottish poet and biographer.

From the description of Letters, 1816-1842. (University of Iowa Libraries). WorldCat record id: 122654610

Born on 7 December, 1784 at Keir, Dumfriesshire, Allan Cunningham was one of nine children. He attended a dame's school briefly, before being apprenticed to his brother James, a stonemason in Dalwinton, at age 11. Bookish from an early age, Cunningham read avidly in his spare time and soon began experimenting with his own poetry. Some poems signed 'Hidallan' were published in the 'Literary Recreations' (1807) edited by Eugenius Roche.

In 1809 R.H. Cromek met Cunningham while touring Scotland looking for indigenous songs and ballads. Cunningham showed him his work and the result was that Cromek persuaded Cunningham to move to London and try his hand at literature as a living. That was in April, 1810. A volume entitled Remains of Nithdale and Galloway Song was published under Cromek's aegis which featured some of Cunningham's work.

In London, following a period of intermittent employment as a journalist and newspaper poet, Cunningham made the acquaintance of the sculptor Sir Francis Chancery. Sir Francis agreed to employ the struggling writer as his superintendent of the works in 1814. From then on he resided at 27 Lower Belgrave Place, Pimlico - the address which appears on most of the letters in the following collection. Cunningham's position was that of Chancery's secretary; he conducted his correspondence, represented him during his absence, and perhaps advised him artistically.

In his spare time Cunningham continued to write. He contributed a series called 'Recollections of Mark Macrabin' to Blackwood's Magazine from 1819 - 1821, later giving up Blackwood's for the London Magazine . In 1822 there appeared his two volume Traditional Tales of the English and Scottish Peasantry, and in 1825 he produced a four volume collection entitled The Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern . In both 1829 and 1830 Mr. Cunningham edited a poetical 'Anniversary', references to which appear in some of the following letters, which contained contributions from such contemporaries as Southey, Lockhart, Hogg, Wilson, Croker, and Proctor. Between 1829 and 1833 Cunningham also produced his six volume work, Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors and Architects, which benefitted greatly from the author's personal connection and intimacy with many of his subjects. The last work to appear in his lifetime was a biography of Robert Burns, published in 1834. A biography of Sir David Wilkie, composed during the last years of Cunningham's life appeared posthumously.

Allan Cunningham was married to Jean Walker in Southwark on 1 July, 1811. His marriage remained stable and happy until his death in 1842. His widow succeeded him by 22 years. Their union produced five sons and a daughter, the two eldest sons being awarded cadetships in the Indian service as a result of the influence of Sir Walter Scott whom Cunningham had met via Sir Francis Chancery. In 1831 Cunningham received the freedom of Dumfries as well as the praise of Thomas Carlyle, by whom he was referred to as 'the solid Dumfries stonemason'. He was generally known as 'honest Allan Cunningham', a stalwart, hearty, prolific and kindly man with 'a tag of rusticity to the last'. He lies buried at Kensal Green. (Excerpted from the Dictionary of National Biography ).

From the guide to the Allan Cunningham Papers, MS #320., 1815-1841, (Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University, Houston, TX)

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Subjects:

  • English poetry
  • Artists, British
  • Authors, Scottish--19th century--Correspondence
  • Songs
  • Art--History--Sources
  • engraving
  • Authors, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Male authors, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Scottish poetry
  • Authors, Scottish--18th century--Correspondence
  • Art historians--Great Britain
  • Ballads, Scots
  • Printing
  • Art, Stuart
  • Art historians
  • Ballads, English

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)