1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Taylor, William

19432751911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 26 — Taylor, William

TAYLOR, WILLIAM (1765-1836), English man of letters, son of a Norwich manufacturer, was born in that city on the 7th of November 1765. He belonged to the Unitarian community, and went to a school kept at Palgrave, Suffolk, by Rochemont Barbauld, husband of Anna Letitia Barbauld, where Frank Sayers (1763-1817) was among his schoolmates. He travelled on the Continent for some years to perfect himself in foreign languages. William Taylor and his father were both in sympathy with the French Revolution, and belonged to a "revolution society" at Norwich. In 1791 the disturbed condition of affairs induced the elder Taylor to wind up his business, and from this time William devoted himself to letters. He was an enthusiast for German poetry, and did great service to English literature by translations of Bürger's Lenore (1790, printed 1796), of Lessing's Nathan the Wise (1790, printed 1805), of Goethe's Iphigenia in Tauris (1790, printed 1793), and of four of Wieland's Dialogues of the Gods (1795). He was a prolific writer of review articles, in which his knowledge of foreign literature served as a useful standard of criticism. Much of this material was made use of in his most important work, his Historic Survey of German Poetry (3 vols., 1828-30). He also edited the works of his friend Sayers with a memoir (1823). He died at Norwich on the 5th of March 1836.

See a Memoir of the Life and Writings of the late W. Taylor of Norwich, by John Warden Robberds (2 vols., 1843); Georg Herzfeld, William Taylor von Norwich (1897). Taylor is well known to readers of George Borrow by the portrait of him as the "elder individual" in the 23rd chapter of Lavengro.