Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Leighton, William (1841-1869)

LEIGHTON, WILLIAM (1841–1869), Scottish poet, born at Dundee 3 Feb. 1841, was son of David Leighton and the nephew of Robert Leighton (1822–1869) [q. v.] His mother was Elizabeth Inglis, and his mother's sister, Helen Inglis, is the subject of a memoir by Bishop Forbes of Brechin. When he was in his seventh year the family settled in Liverpool, where he received a fair education and became a clerk with a Spanish merchant. From 1864 till his death he was engaged in a Brazilian house. He died of typhoid fever, 22 April 1869, and was buried in Anfield cemetery, Liverpool. There is a window to his memory in St. Ann's Church, Brookfield, Highgate Rise, London.

Leighton wrote verses at an early age. During his last five years he was an active member of literary and debating societies, and contributed poems to the ‘Compass,’ a local literary paper, and to the ‘Liverpool Mercury.’ Thackeray somewhat tardily accepted for the ‘Cornhill Magazine’ his ‘Leaf of Woodruff,’ which Leighton meanwhile, impatient of editorial delay, had published in the ‘Compass.’ He gradually mastered a fluent and energetic style. Both his sentimental lyrics and his occasional pieces are delicately and daintily finished, and such poems as ‘Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-two,’ ‘The Seasons,’ ‘Baby died to-day,’ and ‘Rose’ display very considerable versatility and promise. ‘Poems by the late William Leighton’ appeared in 1870; ‘Hymns’ in 1872; ‘Baby died to-day, and other Poems’ in 1875. A complete edition of ‘The Poems of William Leighton,’ 1890, has a biographical preface and several illustrations.

[Information from Mr. Robert Leighton, Lowestoft; Memoir prefixed to Poems, ed. 1890.]

T. B.