William Knox was born August 17, 1789, in Lillieslief, Roxburghshire, and educated there and at Loretto Academy in Musselburgh. He took up farming from his parents but abandoned it for journalism, and especially poetry. He brought out three volumes of verse, The Lonely Hearth, and Other Poems (North Shields, 1818), The Songs of Israel (Edinburgh, 1824), and The Harp of Zion (Edinburgh, April 1825). Robert Southey, an early acquaintance, thought well of Knox's writings, but his greatest admirer was Abraham Lincoln, the American President, who committed Knox's poem "Mortality"
(1824) to memory in 1831 and made it famous in America. Knox
died of a stroke at Leith on November 12, 1825.
- William Knox. The Lonely Hearth, the Songs of Israel, Harp of Sion, and Other Poems. London: John Johnstone, 1847. In Maurice Boyd's William Knox
and Abraham Lincoln: The Story of a Poetic Legacy (Denver: Sage Books, 1966). PR 4859 K6A17 Robarts Library