Ritson, Joseph

(1752-1803)
   Born at Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland, he trained as a solicitor, moved to London in 1775 and set up his own conveyancing practice in Grays Inn, then was called to the bar in 1789. On reading Fable of the Bees (1723) by Bernard de Mandeville (1670-1733), he became a vegetarian, existing solely on milk and vegetables. In 1772 he contributed to the Newcastle Miscellany verses addressed with some freedom to the ladies of Stockton. In 1782 he published Observations on the three first volumes of the History of English Poetry by Thomas Warton (see entry). His nitpicking criticism was offensive and created a literary storm; Sir Walter Scott engaged Ritson's help when he was compiling Border Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802-1803). Ritson died insane; he barricaded himself in and set fire to his manuscripts. They buried him at Bunhill Fields, London. Some of his other publications: Select Collection of English Songs, 1783. Ancient Songs from the time of King Henry the Third to the Revolution, 1792. English Anthology, 1795. Robin Hood, a Collection of all the Ancient Poems, Songs, and Ballads now extant relating to that celebrated English Outlaw, 1795.
   Sources: History of Vegetarianism (http://www.ivu.org/history/renaissance/mandeville.html). Biography of Joseph Ritson (http://online.northumbria.ac.uk/faculties/art/humanities/cns/m-ritson.html). The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ritson, Joseph — (1752 1803)    Although he scraped a living as a conveyancer, Ritson s real preoccupations were with his antiquarian researches and writing, and he quickly amassed an unparalleled knowledge and collection of early British poetry and song, which… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • RITSON, JOSEPH —    a whimsical and crabbed antiquary; his industry was great, his works numerous, among them one entitled Ancient English Metrical Romances, containing a long and still valuable dissertation (1752 1803) …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Ritson, Joseph — (1752 1803)    Antiquary and critic, b. at Stockton on Tees, settled in London as a conveyancer, at the same time devoting himself to the study of ancient English poetry. By his diligence as a collector and acuteness as a critic he rendered… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Joseph Ritson — (October 2, 1752 September 23, 1803), was an English antiquary.He was born at Stockton on Tees, of a Westmorland yeoman family. He was educated for the law, and settled in London as a conveyancer at the age of twenty two. He devoted his spare… …   Wikipedia

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