A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Wilson, Alexander

Wilson, Alexander (1766-1813). Poet and ornithologist, b. at Paisley, where he worked as a weaver, afterwards becoming a pedlar. He pub. some poems, of which the best is Watty and Maggie, and in 1794 went to America, where he worked as a pedlar and teacher. His skill in depicting birds led to his becoming an enthusiastic ornithologist, and he induced the publisher of Rees's Cyclopaedia, on which he had been employed, to undertake an American ornithology to be written and illustrated by him. Some vols. of the work were completed when, worn out by the labour and exposure entailed by his journeys in search of specimens, he succumbed to a fever. Two additional vols. appeared posthumously. The work, both from a literary and artistic point of view, is of high merit. He also pub. in America another poem, The Foresters.