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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V04, Page 664 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BROWNE, HAI#LOT KNIGHT (1815–1882), English artist, famous as " Phiz," the illustrator of the best-known books by Charles Dickens, Charles Lever and Harrison Ainsworth in their original editions. His talents in other directions of art were of a very ordinary kind. As an interpreter and illustrator of Di'cken's characters, " Phiz," as he always signed his drawings, was in some respects the equal of his rivals Cruikshank and Leech, while, in his own way, he excelled them both. Of Huguenot extraction, he was born in Lambeth on the 1 rth of June 1815. His father died early and left the family badly off. Browne was apprenticed to Finden, the eminent engraver on steel, in whose studio he obtained his only artistic education. To engraving, however, he was entirely unsuited, and having in 1833 secured an important prize from the Society of Arts for a drawing of " John Gilpin," he abandoned engraving in the following year and took to other artistic work, with the ultimate object of becoming a painter. In the spring of 1836 he met Charles Dickens. It was at the moment when the serial publication which place his father was vicar. He was educated at Lichfield, at Westminster school, and at Trinity College, Cambridge. After taking his M.A. degree he removed to Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar, but never practised. He was the author of Design and Beauty," a poem addressed to his friend Joseph Highmore the painter; and of " The Pipe of Tobacco " which parodied Cibber, Ambrose Philips, Thomson, Young, Pope and Swift, who were then all living. He was elected to Parliament through private interest in 1744 and again in 1747 for the borough of Wenlock in Shropshire. In 1754 he published his chief work, De Animi Immortalitate, a Latin poem much admired by the scholars of his time. The best of the many translations of these verses is by Soame Jenyns. Browne is said by Johnson to have been " one of the first wits of this country." He was a brilliant talker in private life, especially when his tongue was loosed by wine; but he made no mark in public life. He died in London on the 14th of February 176o. Two editions of his Poems on Various Subjects, Latin and English, were published in 1767 by his son Isaac Hawkins Browne (1745-1818), the author of two volumes of essays on religion and morals. One of these was printed for private circulation, and is said to have contained a memoir. A full account by Andrew Kippis in Biographia Britannica (178o) includes large extracts from his poems.
End of Article: BROWNE

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