Downman, Hugh

(1740-1809)
   Born at Exeter, Devon, and educated at Exeter Grammar School and Balliol College, Oxford, from where he graduated B.A. in 1763. He was an ordained minister, studied medicine at Edinburgh, and earned an M.A. at Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1770, then practiced medicine in Exeter. Several times he had to withdraw from practice because of ill health. Besides many poems, he published a number of plays, helped to translate an edition of Voltaire's works, and founded a literary society with 12 members in Exeter in 1796. His best known poem, and the one relevant to infant care, was published between 1774 and 1776, Infancy or the management of children: a poem in three books. Seven editions were published during his lifetime. He stressed two important principles: health is the greatest blessing a person can have, and a person's future depends on the management during the first years of life. His other main publications: The Land of the Muses, 1768 (a poem in the manner of Spenser). Poems to Thespia, 1781. The Death Song of Ragnar Lodbrach, 1781. Poems, 1791.
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. English Poetry: Author Search. Chadwyck-Healey Ltd., 1995 (http://www. lib.utexas.edu:8080/search/epoetry/author.html). Hugh Downman, MD (1740-1809) of Exeter and his poem on infant care (http://fn.bmjjournals.com/cgi/content/full/ 88/3/F253).

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

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