Fiery Heart: The First Life of Leigh Hunt by Nicholas Roe; The Wit in the Dungeon: Leigh Hunt and His Circle by Anthony Holden - review by Adam Sisman

Adam Sisman

He Lived Too Long

Fiery Heart: The First Life of Leigh Hunt

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Pimlico 432pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

The Wit in the Dungeon: Leigh Hunt and His Circle

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Little, Brown 384pp £20 order from our bookshop
 

Leigh Hunt had the misfortune not to die early. He lived to the age of seventy-four, the sole survivor of a generation of Romantic writers – including Keats, Shelley and Byron – otherwise long since passed away. When he died in 1859, even his local paper, the West London Observer, expressed surprise that he had not done so before. Had he, like the others, died in his prime, he would surely have been better remembered, the glamour of youth forever attached to his name. As it was, he lived to suffer embarrassments and mortifications that tarnished his early achievements.

The most heroic period of Hunt’s life was the last decade of the Napoleonic War, while he was still in his twenties. As editor of the radical weekly The Examiner, he challenged the corrupt Regency establishment, repeatedly exposing abuses and tirelessly campaigning for reform, freedom of the press, and equality

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