English essayist and poet. He influenced and encouraged the Romantics. His verse, though easy and agreeable, is little appreciated today, and he is best remembered as an essayist. He recycled parts of his Lord Byron and some of his Friends (1828), in which he criticized Byron's character, as Autobiography (1850). The character of Harold Skimpole in Charles Dickens's Bleak House was allegedly based on him.
The appearance in his Liberal newspaper the Examiner of an unfavourable article that he had written about the Prince Regent caused him to be convicted for libel and imprisoned in 1813. He was the friend of and publisher of poems by Byron, Keats, and Shelley.
Hunt was born in Southgate, Middlesex. As a boy he began to write poetry, which his father published in 1801 under the title of Juvenilia. In 1808 he and his brother John started the Examiner, in which he wrote for 13 years on many subjects. He published several volumes of poems, including The Story of Rimini (1816). In 1822 he joined Byron in Italy, later quarrelled with him, and in 1825 returned to England, where he continued to work hard, contributing to newspapers, editing periodicals, and writing drama criticism and book reviews. He produced a novel, Sir Ralph Esher (1832), and reprinted the best of his papers in 1834. His play A Legend of Florence was produced at Covent Garden, London, in 1840; his book on London The Town appeared in 1848 and in 1855 The Old Court Suburb, or Memorials of Kensington.
Hunt, (James Henry) Leigh
Selected Poetry of Leigh Hunt (1784–1859)