On This Day 18 August 1841 the poet and novelist Robert William Buchanan was born. He lived at 90 Lewin Road where he died
Born at Caverswall, Staffordshire, on 18 August 1841, the only surviving child of Robert Buchanan (1813–1866) and his wife, Margaret Williams (d. 1894)
In about 1850 the family went to Glasgow, where Buchanan's father had moved to edit the Glasgow Sentinel, a socialist newspaper which he was eventually to own. Following the collapse of his father's newspaper business Buchanan went to London in 1860 with Gray to seek literary fame and fortune.
He managed to obtain employment on The Athenaeum and other periodicals. He also enjoyed some success writing for the stage, collaborating with Charles Gibbon on The Rathboys (1862) and having a verse-play entitled The Witch-Finder produced at Sadler's Wells two years later. His circle of literary acquaintances expanded to include G. H. Lewes, George Eliot, Robert Browning, and Charles Dickens, the last of whom accepted some contributions to All the Year Round.
From 1876 he wrote or collaborate in no fewer than forty-seven additional plays during the remaining twenty-seven years of his life—seven in 1890 alone—and to publish a further twenty-four novels. His plays include adaptations of his own novels The Shadow of the Sword and God and the Man, and a version of Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment called The Sixth Commandment(1890). His plays and novels proved more popular than his poetry and the upturn in his fortunes enabled him to move back to London in 1877.
Buchanan suffered a stroke in October 1900 and died in comparative poverty at Streatham, London, on 10 June 1901.Source J P Phelan
Image ©National Portrait Gallery