Sunday, 9 November 2008

Aytoun Ancestry Tours Of Scotland

William Edmondstoune Aytoun, 1813-65). Poet and humorist. He was born on the 21st of June, 1813, in Edinburgh. His father was a writer To The Signet and one of the founders of the Edinburgh Academy, to which Aytoun was sent in 1824. Between 1828 and 1833 he studied law at the University of Edinburgh, and he published his first collection of poems, mainly romantic pastiches, Poland, Homer and Other Poems in 1832. On graduating he travelled in Germany before joining his father's law firm. In 1836 he made his first contributions to Blackwood's Magazine, associating himself with its conservative politics; for Blackwood's Magazine he wrote over 200 poems, political articles and short stories, including How we got up the Glenmutchkin Railway, October, 1845, a droll expose of railway mania which indicted both unscrupulous speculators and gullible buyers, and How I stood for the Dreepdailly Burghs, September, 1847, a satire on political sycophancy. Aytoun formally joined the staff of Blackwood's in 1844 and the following year he was appointed Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres at the University of Edinburgh. On 11 April 1849 he married Jane Emily, the daughter of John Wilson. He continued to practise at the Bar and for his support of Protectionism, Derby's government rewarded him with the Sheriffship and Lord Admiralty of Orkney and Shetland in 1852. With Sir Theodore Martin, Aytoun wrote The Book of Ballads edited by Bon Gaultier (1845), Bon Gaultier being the pseudonym that Martin had used previously. The ballads are parodies and burlesques of contemporary poems such as Tennyson's Locksley Hall and Hunt's Rimini which had appeared originally in Eraser's Magazine and Tait's Edinburgh Magazine. They were added to and republished in 1857 and are known popularly as The Bon Gaultier Ballads. Aytoun's best-known work is Lays of The Scottish Cavaliers and Other Poems, published in 1849, which became a Victorian bestseller. The ballad romances, written in the style of Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Babington Macaulay, deal with such historical subjects as the Battle of Flodden, the pilgrimage of The Black Douglas to the Holy Land to bury the heart of Robert the Bruce, and an account of exiled soldiers of John Graham, Bonnie Dundee, fighting in the service of the French. In 1856 Aytoun published Bothwell, a long poem about the events surrounding the relationship of Mary, Queen of Scots, with her third husband James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. Written in ballad form, it is marred by historical inaccuracy and its dependency on the monologue of its hero. Aytoun also published The Ballads of Scotland (1858), a collection of 139 carefully excised Scottish ballads. His autobiographical novel, Norman Sinclair, was published four years before his death on 4th August 1865. A memoir of his life was published by his friend and collaborator Sir Theodore Martin in 1867. Works: Poland, Homer and Other Poems; The Life and Times of Richard the First; Our Zion, or Presbyterian Popery, by ane of that llk; The Drummond Schism Examined and Exposed; The Book of Ballads edited by Bon Gaultier; Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers and Other Poems; Bothwell: a Poem; The Ballads of Scotland.

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