World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

William Howitt

Article Id: WHEBN0000406066
Reproduction Date:

Title: William Howitt  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Mary Howitt, Sizar, William Dexter, Alfred William Howitt, Howitt
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

William Howitt

William Howitt
picture from
Born 18 December 1792 (1792-12-18)[1]
Heanor in Derbyshire[1]
Died Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter. (aged 86)
Education Friends public school at Ackworth
Occupation Writer
Spouse(s) Mary Botham

William Howitt (18 December 1792 – 3 March 1879), was a prolific English writer on history and other subjects.


  • Biography 1
  • Published works 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Howitt was born at Heanor, Derbyshire.The family relatives still remain around this area. His parents were Quakers, and he was educated at the Friends public school at Ackworth, Yorkshire. His younger brothers were Richard and Godrey whom he helped tutor. In 1814 he published a poem on the Influence of Nature and Poetry on National Spirit. He married, in 1821, Mary Botham, who like himself was a Quaker and a poet. William and Mary Howitt collaborated throughout a long literary career, the first of their joint productions being The Forest Minstrels and other Poems (1821).

In 1831, William Howitt produced a work resulting naturally from his habits of observation and his genuine love of nature. It was a history of the changes in the face of the outside world in the different months of the year, and was entitled The Book of the Seasons, or the Calendar of Nature (1831). His Popular History of Priestcraft (1833) won him the favour of active Liberals and the office of alderman in Nottingham, where the Howitts had made their home.

They moved in 1837 to Esher, and became friends with Elizabeth Gaskell and her husband. 1838 saw publication of his Colonization and Christianity, which was later quoted approvingly by Karl Marx in Capital, Volume I.[2] In 1840 they went to Heidelberg, primarily for the education of their children, remaining in Germany for two years. In 1841 William Howitt produced, under the pseudonym of Dr Cornelius, The Student Life of Germany, the first of a series of works on German social life and institutions. Mary Howitt devoted herself to Scandinavian literature, and between 1842 and 1863 she translated the novels of Frederika Bremer and many of the stories of Hans Christian Andersen. With her husband she wrote in 1852 The Literature and Romance of Northern Europe. In June of that year William Howitt, with two of his sons, set sail for Australia, where he spent two years in the goldfields. The results of his travels appeared in A Boy's Adventures in the Wilds of Australia (1854), Land, Labour and Gold; or, Two Years in Victoria (1855) and Tallangetta, the Squatter's Home (1857).

On his return to England Howitt had settled at Highgate and resumed his indefatigable book-making. From 1856 to 1862 he was engaged on Cassell's Illustrated History of England, and from 1861 to 1864 he and his wife worked at the Ruined Abbeys and Castles of Great Britain. The Howitts had left the Society of Friends in 1847, and became interested in Spiritualism. In 1863 he published The History of the Supernatural in all Ages and Nations, and in all Churches, Christian and Pagan, demonstrating a Universal Faith. He added his own conclusions from a practical examination of the higher phenomena through a course of seven years.

From 1870 onwards Howitt spent the summers in Tyrol and the winters in Rome, where he died. In 1880 Mary Howitt had a house built for her (which is still standing) in the spa town of Meran in South Tyrol (then part of Austria) and from then on divided her time between Rome and Meran. Mary Howitt was much affected by William's death, and in 1882 she joined the Roman Catholic Church, towards which she had been gradually moving during her connection with spiritualism. She died at Rome on 30 January 1888.[1]

The Howitts are remembered for their untiring efforts to provide wholesome and instructive literature. Their son, Alfred William Howitt, made a name for himself by his explorations in Australia. Anna Mary Howitt was both an artist and a poet, and married Alaric Alfred Watts.[3] Mary Howitt's autobiography was edited by her daughter, Margaret Howitt, in 1889.[1] William Howitt wrote some fifty books, and his wife's publications, inclusive of translations, number over a hundred.

Published works

  • History of priestcraft in all ages and nations (1833)
  • Calendar of nature (1836)
  • The rural life of England (1838)
  • Colonization and Christianity (1838)
  • The Student-life of Germany (1841)
  • The Literature and Romance of Northern Europe (1852)
  • "The History of Magic" (1854)
  • Land, labour, and gold; or, Two years in Victoria (1855)
  • A Boy's Adventures in the Wilds of Australia; or, Herbert's Note-Book (1855)
  • The Man of the People (1860)
  • The History of the Supernatural in All Ages and Nations and in all Churches, Christian and Pagan, demonstrating a Universal Faith (1863)
  • The history of discovery in Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand (1865)


  1. ^ a b c d Dictionary of National Biography,1885–1900, Volume 28, William Howitt, now in the public domain.
  2. ^ The passage, which is used in chapter 31 of Volume I, is from p. 9 of Colonization and Christianity: "The barbarities and desperate outrages of the so-called Christian race, throughout every region of the world, and upon every people they have been able to subdue, are not to be paralleled by those of any other race, however fierce, however untaught, and however reckless of mercy and of shame, in any age of the earth."
  3. ^ Anna Mary Howitt's ODNB entry: Retrieved 9 July 2011. Subscription required.

This entry contains information from the Meran Stadtarchiv and an on the spot visit to the house in Meran, which has a plaque with her initials MAH and the date 1880.

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.