Alexander William Kinglake

1863 portrait of Alexander William Kinglake by Harriet M. Haviland

Alexander William Kinglake (5 August 1809 – 2 January 1891) was an English travel writer and historian.

He was born near Taunton, Somerset and educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge.[1] He was called to the Bar in 1837, and built up a thriving legal practice, which in 1856 he abandoned in order to devote himself to literature and public life.

His first literary venture had been Eothen; or Traces of travel brought home from the East (London: J. Ollivier, 1844), a very popular work of Eastern travel, apparently first published anonymously, in which he described a journey he made about ten years earlier in Syria, Palestine and Egypt, together with his Eton contemporary Lord Pollington.[2] Elliot Warburton said it evoked "the East itself in vital actual reality" and it was instantly successful. However, his magnum opus was THE INVASION OF THE CRIMEA: Its Origin, and an Account of its Progress down to the Death of Lord Raglan, in 8 volumes, published from 1863 to 1887 by Blackwood, Edinburgh, one of the most effective works of its class. The History, which Geoff Bocca describes as a book "by which no intelligent man can fail immediately to be fascinated, no matter to what page he might open it" has been accused of being too favourable to Lord Raglan, and unduly hostile to Napoleon III, for whom the author had an extreme aversion.

The town of Kinglake in Victoria, Australia,[3] and the adjacent national park are named after him.

A Whig, Kinglake was elected at the 1857 general election as one of the two Members of Parliament (MP) for Bridgwater, having unsuccessfully contested the seat in 1852. He was returned at next two general elections, but the result of the 1868 general election in Bridgwater was voided on petition on 26 February 1869. No by-election was held, and after a Royal Commission found that there had been extensive corruption, the town was disenfranchised in 1870.[4][5]


  1. "Kinglake, Alexander William (KNGK828AW)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. Introduction to Eothen: Traces of Travel Brought Home from the East, Northwestern University Press, 1 Apr 1997
  3. "Pioneers honored". The Age. 6 September 1977. p. 3. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  4. Craig, F. W. S. (1989) [1977]. British parliamentary election results 1832–1885 (2nd ed.). Chichester: Parliamentary Research Services. pp. 61–62. ISBN 0-900178-26-4.
  5. "Alexander William Kinglake". Paul Frecker. Retrieved 24 September 2012.


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Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Brent Follett
Charles Tynte
Member of Parliament for Bridgwater
1857 – 1869
With: Charles Tynte to 1865
Henry Westropp 1865–1866
George Patton 1866
Philip Vanderbyl from 1866
Constituency disenfranchised
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