MAGINN, WILLIAM (1793–1842), Irish poet and journalist, was born at Cork on the 10th of July 1793. The son of a schoolmaster, he graduated at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1811, and after his father’s death in 1813 succeeded him in the school. In 1819 he began to contribute to the Literary Gazette and to Blackwood’s Magazine, writing as “R. T. Scott” and “Morgan O’Doherty.” He first made his mark as a parodist and a writer of humorous Latin verse. In 1821 he visited Edinburgh, where he made acquaintance with the Blackwood circle. He is credited with having originated the idea of the Noctes ambrosianae, of which some of the most brilliant chapters were his. His connexion with Blackwood lasted, with a short interval, almost to the end of his life. His best story was “Bob Burke’s Duel with Ensign Brady.” In 1823 he removed to London. He was employed by John Murray on the short-lived Representative, and was for a short time joint-editor of the Standard. But his intemperate habits and his imperfect journalistic morality prevented any permanent success. In connexion with Hugh Fraser he established Fraser’s Magazine (1830), in which appeared his “Homeric Ballads.” Maginn was the original of Captain Shandon in Pendennis. In spite of his inexhaustible wit and brilliant scholarship, most of his friends were eventually alienated by his obvious failings, and his persistent insolvency. He died at Walton-on-Thames on the 21st of August 1842.
His Miscellanies were edited (5 vols., New York, 1855–1857) by R. Shelton Mackenzie and (2 vols., London, 1885) by R. W. Montagu [Johnson].