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Young, Edwardlocked

(bap. 1683, d. 1765)
  • James E. May

Edward Young (bap. 1683, d. 1765)

by Joseph Highmore, 1754

All Souls College, Oxford

Young, Edward (bap. 1683, d. 1765), writer, was baptized on 3 July 1683 at Upham near Winchester, the son of Edward Young (1641/2–1705), rector of Upham and later dean of Salisbury, and his wife, Judith (1645–1714). Of the poet's three sisters, only Anne (1684–1714) survived infancy. She married John Harris in 1704, a month after Dean Young had resigned his Winchester fellowship for Harris and helped him become rector of Chiddingfold, Surrey. After the dean died, the poet's mother moved in with her daughter and son-in-law, and Chiddingfold became Young's second home, with Young ever remaining close to Harris and his sons. Young entered Winchester College in January 1695 and remained there until 1702. Under the headmaster William Harris until 1700, the curriculum included translating the classics into English verse. Young was a mediocre scholar, but he may have developed a love of poetry at Winchester, for many of his contemporaries became poets. Also, as Forster notes, a 'striking number' of Young's friends 'turn out to be Wykehamists' (Forster, 16).

Scoring poorly in the fellowship exam at eighteen, and superannuated at nineteen with an eighth place on the election rolls, Young failed to secure a fellowship at New College but was admitted in October 1702 as gentleman commoner by Dean Young's friend Richard Traffles, the college's warden, who provided the poet lodging to save him expense (Forster, 12–17). After Traffles died in June 1703, Young entered Corpus Christi College as a commoner and lived with Thomas Turner, president of the college and a friend of his father. A year after the dean's death, Young was regularly absent from Corpus Christi and residing in Chiddingfold; then, in the last week of November 1708, he entered All Souls College, having been nominated for a scholarship by the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Tenison, and was elected a law fellow on 2 December 1709. Young graduated bachelor of civil laws (1714) and then doctor in civil laws (1719). All Souls remained his principal residence until 1730, but he spent much time in London and periodically visited his sister's family and his friends' country homes, such as George Bubb Dodington's in Eastbury, Dorset, and Walter Cary's in Sheen, Surrey. During July 1720, when Philip, duke of Wharton, went to Ireland to sell his estates, Young accompanied him, being employed that summer as a Latin tutor to the duke. It was then, while walking with Jonathan Swift, that he heard the dean speak of dying 'like that tree … at top' (ibid., 66). Wharton, having returned to the whig party in 1721, persuaded Young to stand for parliament in Cirencester against Lord Bathurst's candidate, but in the face of public hostility Young left the district without a contest (ibid., 74–7). Young never received annuities pledged by the duke in 1721 and 1722, and his suit for compensations, begun in 1723, brought none for twenty years and only then with legal entanglements until at least 1757 (ibid., 168–71, 306).

Early literary career, 1711–1730

Without any inherited wealth and with only his fellowship for subsistence into his forties, Young long supported himself through literature, writing dedications and poems aimed at preferment, tragedies for benefit nights, and popular poems self-published with copyrights later sold for profit. By early 1711 he had composed what was later revised and published as A Poem on the Last Day, 100 lines of which (revised as lines 1–104 of the first edition) were published on 22 March 1711 in the Tory continuation of The Tatler, edited by William Harrison, Swift's protégé and Young's friend from Winchester. The letter from New College introducing the extract, signed T. L., remarks that Young had 'design'd a Tragedy for the Stage this winter … approved by Five or Six of the best Judges', but rejected by Colley Cibber. Young probably began composing before returning to Oxford, for George Bubb, later Dodington, in a prefatory poem to George Stubbes's The Laurel and the Olive (1710), compared Stubbes's verses for boldness to those of 'nervous Y—'. Like Harrison and Thomas Tickell, fellow Oxford poets, Young employed his poetical talents and participated in London literary circles in an effort to obtain a post.

Young's first published poem, An Epistle to the Right Honourable the Lord Lansdown, shared with Alexander Pope's Windsor Forest its occasion and dedicatee, but also reflected Young's dramatic aspirations. Appearing on 10 March 1713, the Epistle vilified war and praised the queen's and Bolingbroke's achievement of a peace that 'more than bids the Rage of Battle cease' and allows the cultivation of drama, that 'School of Virtue' in which Britain peacefully triumphs over France. After praising Shakespeare, Young's eulogy turns to Granville's virtues before praising Granville's nephew and lamenting the death of Young's friend Harrison. As Forster notes, Young's justifying his familiarity with 'Granvil's Name' on his acquaintance with the nephew Bevil Granville suggests that Young tutored him during a long absence from Oxford in 1711 (Forster, 28–9).

Young's first composition of note was the lengthy A Poem on the Last Day (1713), revised in 1715 and reprinted twenty times in the next half-century. In three books and roughly 500 couplets, Young describes the resurrection of the dead, the tortured speech of those awaiting judgment, and the final conflagration. The poem was dedicated to the queen, with mention of a personal debt, which some have supposed an allusion to Anne's being Young's godmother (Jacob, 2.241), though Forster found no support for this relationship (Forster, 5). The poem bears an imprimatur dated 19 May 1713, and was quoted and praised as forthcoming within The Guardian of 9 May 1713, but it did not appear until 14 July. Forster plausibly suggests that the poem was delayed to gain the queen's approval for the dedication and that Young's privately printed Epistle to … Bolingbroke Sent with a Poem on the Last Day, dated 'March' in the text and 1714 on the colophon, was presented in manuscript in March 1713 to gain a royal audience (ibid., 34).

A poem addressed to Bolingbroke reflects Young's acquaintance with Swift, who later claimed to have cured Young of writing triplets, two of which are in the Tatler version of his Last Day but were cut from the first edition. The familiarity of Young's first extant letter to Pope of 8 June 1715, on distributing Oxford copies of Pope's Iliad, suggests they had known each other for some time. By now Young had fully secured the assistance of Sir Richard Steele and Joseph Addison, as is evident from Young's prefatory poem to Addison's Cato (7th edn, 1713), Steele's puff of A Poem on the Last Day in The Englishman (29 Oct 1713) and its frequent advertisements therein, and the inclusion of Young's morbid epigram on Michelangelo's painting of the crucifixion in Steele's Poetical Miscellanies (1714), preceded by Thomas Wharton's verses on Young's Poem on the Last Day. Also, Addison permitted Young to inscribe to him On the Late Queen's Death, and his Majesty's Accession to the Throne (September 1714). Young's lines elegizing the queen (ll. 25–137) were reprinted in The Loyal Mourner for the Best of Princes (1716), edited by Charles Oldisworth.

In May 1714 Young tried his hand at narrative with the Force of Religion (1714), on the martyrdom of Lady Jane Grey, who refuses to convert to Roman Catholicism to save herself, her father, and her husband, though the two plead with her to do so. In February 1719 he published A Paraphrase on a Part of the Book of Job, transposing the theophany (chapters 38–41) into pentameter couplets, with special attention to sublime imagery. Always eager for help from fellow poets, Young secured revisions from Addison (the mentor he held in highest esteem) and Tickell in 1717 (Correspondence, 15). He revised the second and third editions (1719, 1726), and a Dublin edition appeared in 1719. Young retained copyright, enabling him to reprint it in 1748 with Nights 7–9 of Night-Thoughts, and, after Andrew Millar bought the copyrights to all four poems in 1749, it continued to appear in collected editions of the Night-Thoughts. In July 1719 Jacob Tonson, who had published Young's Paraphrase, brought out Young's A Letter to Mr. Tickell on the death of Addison, part of which presumably was written for a panegyric (1717) that Addison blocked from publication (ibid., 8). Also in 1719 Young contributed complimentary verses addressing the author Joseph Mitchell's Lugubres cantus (1719). Mitchell repaid Young by plagiarizing Poem on the Last Day in his Jonah (1720). Evidently a clubbable wit, Young seems to have been friends with many poets, so it is no wonder that he was one of the first London friends of Scots like David Mallet and James Thomson.

Young's ambitions in tragedy were met in March 1719 by nine performances at Drury Lane of his Busiris, King of Egypt. Like all his tragedies, Busiris was stridently melodramatic in the fashion of Jacobean drama, and contemporaries both commended and blasted its diction. Young wrote at least two acts of a play on the earl of Essex, about which he corresponded in 1719–20 with Lady Martha Giffard, sister of Sir William Temple, to whom he wrote verses on her niece's illness (Correspondence, 16–19). His second performed tragedy, The Revenge, had only a six-night run in April 1721, but its tale of the vengeful Moor Zanga, a plausible conflation of Iago and Othello and a role sought by tragedians, remained in the repertory throughout the century.

Beginning in 1724, Young sought a place in the Irish church from Lord Carteret, lord lieutenant of Ireland, making repeated entreaties to Carteret's secretary Thomas Clutterbuck and to Tickell, then secretary to the lords justices of Ireland. This campaign led Young in October 1724 to withdraw his tragedy The Brothers from rehearsal at Drury Lane, for a second time (in March 1724 he withdrew it as unlikely to run well), and to receive deacon's orders at the bishop of Winchester's chapel in Chelsea on 22 December. In March 1725 he became chaplain-in-ordinary to the princess of Wales, to whom he dedicated A Vindication of Providence in November 1727, promptly sending copies to Carteret, Clutterbuck, and Tickell (Correspondence, 58). Failing in this bid for preferment, perhaps in part owing to Dean Swift's opposing benefices for non-Irish clergy, Young delayed ordination to priesthood until after his appointment as chaplain-in-ordinary to the king (30 April 1728); he was privately ordained at Winchester on 9 June 1728.

Author of The Universal Passion

The great achievement of Young's early career came in his seven satires entitled The Universal Passion, published in separate folios between January 1725 and February 1728 and revised and collected as Love of Fame with a critical preface in March 1728. These Horatian satires with occasional panegyrics and Juvenalian climaxes for variety broke new poetical ground. Epigrammatic and built of character sketches reminiscent of La Bruyère's, they were the first formal verse satires with a thematic focus to follow Dryden's prescriptions and, especially in the case of satires 5 and 6 on women, influenced Pope's satirical works, particularly his Moral Epistles. Satires 1 and 2 required second folio editions, and all were soon reprinted in Dublin and Edinburgh, and passed through over two dozen editions by 1765, with dedications to the duke of Dorset, Dodington, Spencer Compton, Robert Walpole, and Lady Elizabeth Germain. Their popularity fuelled new editions of Young's other works and made Young, often identified as ‘The author of The Universal Passion’, one of the four dominant poets of his age (witness Allan Ramsay's The Quadruple Alliance of 1728). The fifth satire in January 1726 ('the Last') concludes with fulsome praise of Walpole and the king—enough to draw fire from Swift. That panegyric—and support from Dodington and Princess Caroline—helped Young receive an annual pension of £200, awarded on 3 May 1726. Walter Chetwynd's transcript of the warrant bears the marginal gloss 'Author of the Universal Passion & such poetical Pieces' (Bodl. Oxf., MS Add. D.4, no. 96), verifying the London Journal's characterization of the pension as an 'encouragement to poetry' (16 July 1726). Habitually acknowledging favours, on 5 July Young publicly owned his thanks within The Instalment, a celebration of Walpole's induction into the Order of the Garter on 26 May.

After the success of the first five satires, Young brought out an edition of his Paraphrase of Job (1726), in quarto on royal paper, as a specimen for a three-volume subscription work. The same terms appear in newspaper advertisements on 18–21 February 1727: 2 guineas down and another on delivery. Advertised as late as 22 February 1729 in Thomas Worrall's notice for Young's sermon An Apology for Princes, the effort was unsuccessful, but reflects Young's ambition and confidence in his literary merit. The three-volume length suggests that Young's closet held much that was never published (perhaps another tragedy) and much that was soon to be published. The latter included Young's prose discourse on the passions as impediments to human felicity, A Vindication of Providence, or, True Estimate of Human Life, written by October 1724 and first published in November 1727 in quarto on fine paper by Worrall. The title describes it as 'Preach'd in St. George's Church near Hanover-Square, soon after the late King's Death', but the frequently reprinted work was, at sixty-four quarto pages, too long for a sermon. Young loyally supported the king and whig commercial policies in the odes Ocean, published with a prefatory 'Ode to the King' and discourse on lyric poetry (1728), Imperium pelagi, or, The Merchant, with a preface on Pindar (1730), and Foreign Address (1735). No critic has thought these works successful enough to resolve the degrees to which Young's persistence in writing six-line stanzas on naval policy arose from patriotic fervour, governmental encouragement, or the aspiration to gain preferment or to domesticate Pindar. Young returned to satire with Two Epistles to Mr. Pope: Concerning the Authors of the Age (1730), a mixture of critical precepts and satiric characters of dunces, thrice reprinted in Dublin in 1730.

Happiness and loss, 1730–1742

In July 1730, as a benefice from All Souls, Young received the rectory of St Mary's Church, Welwyn, north of London on the York road, a living worth £300 per year. A fortnight later, on 4 August, at St Mary-at-Hill in London, he secretly married Lady Elizabeth Lee (1694–1740), daughter of Lady Charlotte Fitzroy (granddaughter of King Charles II and Lady Castlemaine) and Edward Henry Lee, raised to the earl of Litchfield on his marriage. Lady Elizabeth was the widow of Colonel Francis Henry Lee, her first cousin, who had died in March, and mother of three surviving children: Elizabeth (b. 1718), Charles Henry (b. c.1720), and Caroline (b. c.1727). Settling into Welwyn for life, Young leased Guessens, a large house that was the first home he had had of his own. The marriage was publicly announced in May 1731, and on 20 June 1732 the couple had a son, named Frederick after his godfather, the prince of Wales. None of Young's letters survives for 1731–8, when he was evidently preoccupied with family life. On 24 June 1735 he married his stepdaughter Elizabeth to Henry Temple, elder son of the first Viscount Palmerston.

To aid the consumptive Elizabeth, the Youngs took her and Temple to southern France, but she died on 8 October 1737 in Lyons and was buried in its protestant cemetery. Young and his wife spent the winter outside Nice, where Young wrote but later lost in transit a discourse complementing his Vindication of Providence (Forster, 154). Apparently ill for some time (Works, 3.144), Lady Elizabeth died at her brother's London home on 29 January 1740 (Forster, 158). Young had been ill in 1737 following his stepdaughter's death, and in the summer following his wife's death he came close to dying of a fever treated by Dr Richard Mead. Then came the shocking news that Temple, his beloved son-in-law and friend of two decades, had died suddenly on 18 August 1740. Encouraged by Temple, Young had begun to court the fifty-year-old spinster Judith Reynolds of London as a helpmate and mother for Frederick; the nine-month campaign ended in February 1741, ostensibly blocked by Reynolds's brother.

Poet of the Night-Thoughts

When Edmund Curll and other copyright holders brought out a two-volume edition of Young's Poetical Works in 1741, his literary career seemed over. Then, pursuing consolation for the loss of his stepdaughter in 1736 and his wife and son-in-law in 1740, Young wrote The Complaint, or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality (1742–6), arguably the century's greatest long poem. Its nine 'Nights', issued serially in quartos tending to greater length, total nearly 10,000 lines of blank verse. The first of these maintain the quasi-autobiographical fiction of a nocturnal speaker lamenting the loss of child, spouse, and friend and finding Christian consolation. Increasingly the speaker turns to theodicy, Christian apologetics, and conversion. Often addressing an apostate adversarius named Lorenzo, the speaker satirizes worldly infidelity and argues the sublime blessings of Christian salvation through the wonders of the gospels, the human soul, and nature (as in the cosmic voyage in Night 9). The rhetorical manner is frequently dramatic, with much use of apostrophe, question, antithesis, and paradox. With the first Nights immensely popular (Nights 1–5 all quickly required multiple editions), Young was induced to restate copiously and refine his points, overextending the work until its popularity fell off, though recent criticism has focused on these later Nights. Over 100 collected editions of the Night-Thoughts were published in the next five decades, including translations in most European languages, many in German. Its popularity is reflected in the court battle that Alexander Donaldson won in 1771 against London publishers attempting to prevent his editions. Illustrated by Blake and read closely by Wordsworth and Coleridge, the poem remained popular among middle-class readers well into the 1800s.

More is known about Young after 1740, when he began a correspondence lasting until 1765 with Margaret Cavendish Harley, only daughter of the second earl of Oxford; she was married to William Bentinck, second duke of Portland. Through the duchess Young met or became better acquainted with Mary Granville, then Pendarves, whom the duchess recommended to Young as a spouse (she afterwards married Dr Patrick Delany), and Elizabeth Robinson, later Mrs Montagu, who left vivid testimony to the poet's witty conversation. In her letters the duchess claims the credit for initiating and directing petitions for preferment between 1742 and 1748 and again in 1758, for which Young has been criticized. In January 1744 Young's stepson Charles Lee died of smallpox, and Young was obliged to fight a two-year legal battle against Charles's widow to preserve his son's and stepdaughter's inheritance.

In July 1748 Young had the joy and sorrow of marrying at Welwyn his beloved stepdaughter Caroline to Major William Haviland: in the autumn she joined her husband with his regiment in Scotland and then travelled with him to Ireland, where she died in November 1749. Late in 1748 Young's household was taken over by Mary Hallows, the spinster daughter of a Hertford rector. With Caroline gone and Frederick away (first at Winchester and then Balliol), and Young himself inattentive to the domestic details, he needed a domestic companion. Reserved and quiet in company, and authoritarian to judge from Frederick's response to her, Mrs Hallows remained Young's companion until his death, supplying him with eyes when he could not read and a steady hand when rheumatism prevented his writing. Between 1746 and 1753 Young was occupied with enlarging Guessens, rebuilding his church's turret, reviving Welwyn spa with new assembly rooms, and founding a charity school. He took pleasure in his daily routines about Guessens and in his visitors, including Speaker Arthur Onslow, the Swiss poet Vincenz Bernhard von Tscharner, Joseph Spence, and Mrs Montagu; many of these have recorded their pleasant visits. He travelled to spas and the homes of friends, and to London for his duties as chaplain and for visits to Samuel Richardson, often related to publications. After Richardson took over printing the quarto Night-Thoughts in June 1744, he sought out Young's advice on Clarissa (Correspondence, 180). Soon he became Young's most valued friend, printing and helping revise Young's first and corrected editions.

In March 1748 Young protested against Sir William Bunbury's rumoured efforts to stage The Brothers, whose manuscript Young had 'entrusted' to Bunbury and earlier to his uncle Sir Thomas Hanmer (Correspondence, 317–18). Then on 23 June 1752 Young asked Bunbury to see if Garrick would be 'willing to act [it] … early next Winter', with profits going to 'the Propagation of the Gospell in foreign Parts', whose financial distress had been recently noted by the king (ibid., 382–3). With The Revenge popular in the repertoire, and a cast to include Garrick and George Ann Bellamy, the revival of The Brothers raised high expectations. However, when performed in March 1753, the outmoded tragedy played to shrinking audiences for eight nights, with the last treated as the ninth for the author's benefit; from its profits, Henry Pettit notes, Young recouped only £400 of his £1000 donation to the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge (ibid., 382n.).

In March 1755 Young published The Centaur not Fabulous in five letters 'addressed to a friend', that is, Richardson, who helped with its revision. Divided into six letters in the first of two revised editions that year, this prose satire and homily was directed at licentious and irreligious contemporaries who, misguided by 'infidel' philosophers like Lord Bolingbroke, resembled the fabled beasts. Here as elsewhere Young stressed human dignity as a bulwark against hedonism and atheism.

After his collected works were pirated in 1752 and 1755, Young revised for copyright holders those pieces he wished to pass on to posterity, mainly through deletions. This authorized edition (4 vols., 1757), expanded with a fifth volume in 1773 and a sixth in 1778, was often reprinted but in fewer editions than appeared unauthorized. With suggestions from Richardson, to whom it was addressed, Young wrote Conjectures on Original Composition (1759), an exhortative celebration of originality and an assessment of the genius of Shakespeare, Pope, Swift, Dryden, and Addison, ending with an account of Addison's pious death, thus linking literary with moral virtues. In 1761, aged seventy-eight, encouraged by Mrs Montagu, he composed and privately printed Resignation, a consolation addressing the widow of Admiral Edward Boscawen. Thoroughly revised and expanded to sixty quarto pages, it was published in May 1762 and reprinted in America, Germany, Ireland, and Scotland within two years. Like Night-Thoughts and The Centaur, Resignation seeks to reconcile man to God's ways, but it is marked by Young's most personal and joyous account of providence, and its attack on gloomy freethinking includes an admonition to Voltaire. The poem employs a four-line stanza rhyming abcb, with alternating eight and six-syllable lines, which Samuel Johnson applauded for Young's customary 'experiment of a new mode of writing' (Johnson, Poets, 396).

Death and reputation

After the death of George II, whom Forster convincingly argues was the 'stumbling block' to Young's preferment (Forster, 333–4), Young was appointed in January 1761 by George III as clerk of the closet to the princess dowager. In his last years Young was plagued with physical deterioration, the misadventures of a son often absent from school and prone to debt, difficulties in retaining his quarrelsome curate John Jones, and the death of dear friends like Richardson. Often accused of lacking common sense, the poet lived free of scandals and feuds and acquired a comfortable fortune, a reputation for both wit and piety, and a legion of friends, whig and tory alike. After a fortnight's illness, Young died at Guessens on Good Friday, 5 April 1765, and was buried in the chancel of St Mary's Church, Welwyn, beside his wife, on 12 April. As Young had repeatedly requested, Mrs Hallows burnt his private papers, including all correspondence and manuscripts but his account book (now lost or destroyed). His will, written on 25 April 1760 and slightly amended in 1762, left £1000 to Mrs Hallows (she had never received payment as his housekeeper), £200 to the Revd Jones, £100 for repairs to 'the Parsonage house, & the Chancell', and smaller sums to servants, his nephew the Revd Richard Harris, and All Souls library. His son Frederick inherited the remainder, estimated at £12,500 (ibid., 375–7), which he spent in ten years, well before his death in 1788.

Young's Love of Fame, Night-Thoughts, and Conjectures on Original Composition are still frequently anthologized. These works and his Poem on the Last Day were sufficiently original to inspire imitations and criticism. A copious writer given to experimentation, though sometimes lacking in judgement, Young wrote in various styles but was prone to display an imagination fertile with similitudes, epigrammatic maxims, paradoxes, and antitheses. From the beginning but particularly after years of ministry and personal losses, Young fought a rearguard action against Enlightenment criticism of Christian revelation and teleology. His later works enacted the discovery of the soul's transcendence and of divine providence, promoting an enthusiastic Christianity not unlike that of John Wesley, who twice edited versions of Night-Thoughts. Favourite themes included the paradoxes that humankind triumphs through loss and death and that Christ's redemption of man was too preposterous for 'human ingenuity' to have invented.

After a century, Young's religious enthusiasm and epigrammatic density cost him readers, and George Eliot's attack in 1857, that Young's place seeking undercut the artistic sincerity he had heralded, blighted his reputation. Although his works were frequently reprinted and translated, Young's place in literary history is anchored to the Night-Thoughts and Conjectures, which embodied new sensibilities and notions of literary self-consciousness and imagination. The only major literary figure spanning the reigns of Queen Anne and George III, Young has retained an importance that is also ensured by his friendships with writers as diverse as Pope, Johnson, and Richardson and his contemporaries' admiration, summed up by Johnson's judgment that Young 'was a man of genius and a poet' (Johnson, Poets, 399).


  • H. Forster, Edward Young: the poet of the ‘Night thoughts’, 1683–1765 (1986) [includes list of manuscript and printed sources]
  • The correspondence of Edward Young, 1683–1765, ed. H. Pettit (1971)
  • J. Spence, Observations, anecdotes, and characters, of books and men, ed. J. M. Osborn, new edn, 2 vols. (1966)
  • S. Johnson, Lives of the English poets, ed. G. B. Hill [new edn], 3 (1905)
  • Works of the author of the ‘Night thoughts’, 1–6 (1757–78)
  • H. Pettit, A bibliography of Young's ‘Night thoughts’, University of Colorado Studies: Series in Language and Literature, 5 (1954)
  • A. Lindsay, ‘Edward Young, 1683–1765’, Index of English literary manuscripts, ed. P. J. Croft and others, 3/4 (1997), 573–78
  • W. Thomas, Le poète Edward Young: étude sur sa vie et ses œuvres (1901)
  • S. Brown, ‘Edward Young’, Eighteenth-century British poets: first series, ed. J. Sitter, DLitB, 95 (1990), 353–63
  • S. Brown, ‘A letter from Edward Young to Caroline Lee Haviland: some biographical implications’, Philological Quarterly, 68 (1989), 263–71
  • T. C. D. Eaves and B. D. Kimpel, Samuel Richardson: a biography (1971)
  • D. F. Foxon, ed., English verse, 1701–1750: a catalogue of separately printed poems with notes on contemporary collected editions, 2 vols. (1975)
  • E. T. Collins and H. Pettit, ‘The genealogy of Edward Young, 1683–1765’, University of Colorado Studies, 10 (1966), 79–86
  • [G. Jacob], The poetical register, or, The lives and characters of the English dramatick poets, 2 vols. (1719–20)
  • Letters of Mrs. Elizabeth Montagu, ed. M. Montagu, 4 vols. (1809–13)
  • J. May, The Henry Pettit Edward Young collection at the University of Colorado at Boulder Library: a bibliography (1989)
  • J. May, ‘An unpublished letter from Edward Young to Mrs. Montague, 7 July 1761’, N&Q, 237 (1992), 54–6
  • J. May, ‘Edward Young's criticism of Voltaire in Resignation, 1761, 1762’, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 267 (1989), 127–38
  • manuscript ledger, Gosling's Bank, Barclays Group Archives, Manchester [account begins at ledger N9, fols. 16ff.]
  • warrants for pensions, Chetwynd papers, 1715–30, Bodl. Oxf., MS Add. D4, no. 96


  • Barclays Group Archives, Manchester, ledger, Gosling's Bank, N9, fols. 16ff
  • BL, letters to George Keate, Add. MS 30992
  • Bodl. Oxf., Chetwynd MS, warrants for pensions, Add. D4, no. 96
  • Hunt. L., letters, mainly to Judith Reynolds
  • Longleat House, Wiltshire, letters to Lady Portland


  • J. Highmore, oils, 1754, All Souls Oxf. [see illus.]
  • L. P. Boitard, line engraving (after J. Highmore), NPG; repro. in Works of the author of the ‘Night thoughts’, 1 (1757), frontispiece

Wealth at Death

£1000 to housekeeper Mary Hallows; £200 to Reverend John Jones; £100 left to his successor for repairs to ‘the Parsonage house, & the Chancell’; £20 divided between four housekeepers and £40 between four servants; £50 to nephew Reverend Richard Harris; £50 for books to All Souls Library; £20 to friend Henry Stevens, and various moveables to his parish church; rings to family and friends; son Frederick inherited remainder of estate (est. £12,500): Forster, Edward Young, 375

, 63 vols. (1885–1900), suppl., 3 vols. (1901); repr. in 22 vols. (1908–9); 10 further suppls. (1912–96); (1993)
Bodleian Library, Oxford
Dictionary of Literary Biography
Notes and Queries