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Mark Akenside Biography | Poet

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Mark Akenside, a poet and physician, was born in 1721, at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, died in London in 1770. He was the son of a butcher, and was sent to the University of Edinburgh to qualify for the ministry, but chose the study of medicine instead. After three years' residence at Edinburgh he went to Leyden, and in 1744 became Doctor of Physic. In the same year he published the Pleasures of Imagination, which he is said to have written in Edinburgh, and which was translated into French by Baron d'Holbach (1769).

In 1746 he wrote his much-praised Hymn to the Naiads. Having settled in London, he became a fellow of the Royal Society, and was admitted into the College of Physicians. In 1759 he was appointed first assistant and afterwards head physician to St. Thomas's Hospital. In his later days he wrote little poetry, but published several medical essays and observations.

The place of Akenside as a poet is not very high, though Dr. Johnson praised the blank verse of his poems, and his somewhat cumbrous Pleasures of Imagination  was once considered one of the most pleasing didactic poems in our language.


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