Alexander Ireland (journalist)

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Alexander Ireland (1810–1894) was a Scottish journalist, man of letters, and bibliophile, notable as a biographer of Ralph Waldo Emerson as well as a friend of Emerson and other literary celebrities, including Leigh Hunt and Thomas Carlyle, and the geologist and scientific speculator Robert Chambers. His own most popular book was The Book-Lover's Enchiridion, published under a pseudonym in 1882.

Ralph Waldo Emerson American philosopher, essayist, and poet

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, philosopher, and poet who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.

Thomas Carlyle Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, historian and teacher

Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish philosopher, satirical writer, essayist, translator, historian, mathematician, and teacher. Considered one of the most important social commentators of his time, he presented many lectures during his lifetime with certain acclaim in the Victorian era. One of those conferences resulted in his famous work On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History where he explains that the key role in history lies in the actions of the "Great Man", claiming that "the history of the world is but the biography of great men".



Ireland was born at Edinburgh on 9 May 1810; his father was a businessman. As a young man he had as friends Robert Chambers, William Chambers and John Gairdner. His friendship with Gairdner led to his acquaintance with Ralph Waldo Emerson, who in 1833 came to Edinburgh: theirs was a lifelong friendship. [1]

William Chambers (publisher) Scottish publisher and politician

William Chambers of Glenormiston or William Chambers was a Scottish publisher and politician, the brother of Robert Chambers. The brothers were influential in the mid-19th century, in both scientific and political circles.

John Gairdner Scottish physician

Dr John Gairdner FRCS was a Scottish physician.

In 1843 Ireland moved to Manchester as representative of a Huddersfield firm. In the same year Robert Chambers gave him a confidential task, to have the later highly controversial Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation published anonymously. The secret was well kept until 1884, when everyone else involved in it was dead, and Ireland revealed it in a preface to the twelfth edition. [1]

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous built-up area, with a population of 2.7 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

Huddersfield Town in West Yorkshire, England

Huddersfield is a large market and university town in West Yorkshire, England. It is the 11th largest town in the United Kingdom, with a population of 162,949 at the 2011 census. It lies 14 miles (23 km) southwest of Leeds and 24 miles (39 km) northeast of Manchester.

<i>Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation</i> book by Robert Chambers

Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation is an 1844 work of speculative natural history and philosophy by Robert Chambers. Published anonymously in England, it brought together various ideas of stellar evolution with the progressive transmutation of species in an accessible narrative which tied together numerous scientific theories of the age.

In 1846 Ireland succeeded Edward Watkin as publisher and business manager of the Manchester Examiner , a paper founded the year before by Watkin, John Bright, and William McKerrow to compete with the Manchester Guardian , on behalf of the Anti-Cornlaw League. The first editor was Thomas Ballantyne. Soon the Examiner absorbed the Manchester Times of Archibald Prentice, and as the Manchester Examiner and Times lasted for 40 years. [1]

Edward Watkin English MP and railway entrepreneur

Sir Edward William Watkin, 1st Baronet was a British Member of Parliament and railway entrepreneur. He was an ambitious visionary, and presided over large-scale railway engineering projects to fulfil his business aspirations, eventually rising to become chairman of nine different British railway companies.

The Manchester Examiner was a newspaper based in Manchester, England, that was founded around 1845–1846. Initially intended as an organ to promote the idea of Manchester Liberalism, a decline in its later years led to a takeover by a group who intended to use it to promote Liberal Unionism without actually being directly associated with the Liberal Unionist Party (LUP). That scheme soon failed due to severe financial problems, leading the LUP to take control of the newspaper for a brief period just before the 1892 general election campaign. It was then sold at a significant loss to a competitor, who also owned the Manchester Courier. The last edition was published in 1894 before it was absorbed by the Empire News.

John Bright British Radical and Liberal statesman

John Bright was a British Radical and Liberal statesman, one of the greatest orators of his generation and a promoter of free trade policies.

In 1847 and 1848 Emerson made his second visit to England, encouraged by Ireland, who made the arrangements for Emerson's lectures. [1] On Emerson's recommendation, Ireland took on the poet Henry Septimus Sutton for the Examiner in 1849. [2] In 1851 Ireland was a member of the committee that organised the Manchester Free Library, where many books of his own later went. He cultivated the friendship of Thomas Carlyle and Leigh Hunt. [1]

Henry Septimus Sutton (1825–1901) was an English journalist and temperance activist, known as a religious poet.

The Manchester Free Library opened on 5 September 1852 in Manchester, England. It was the first to be set up under the provisions of the Public Libraries Act 1850, which allowed local authorities to impose a local tax of one penny to pay for the service. The terms of the act required that a poll of ratepayers had to be held before the local authority was allowed to spend money on public libraries, and at least two-thirds had to vote in favour. In Manchester's case only 40 of the more than 4000 eligible voters opposed.

Eventually Liberal support swung from the Examiner to the Guardian when the latter's editorial line came down in favour of William Ewart Gladstone's Irish Home Rule proposals in 1886. The Examiner became unprofitable, passed into other hands, and was closed down. Ireland remained active as a writer in the press. He died on 7 December 1894 at Mauldeth Road, Withington. [1]

William Ewart Gladstone British Liberal politician and prime minister of the United Kingdom

William Ewart Gladstone was a British statesman and Liberal Party politician. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served for twelve years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, spread over four terms beginning in 1868 and ending in 1894. He also served as Chancellor of the Exchequer four times.

Withington suburb of Manchester, England

Withington is a suburb of south Manchester, England. Historically part of Lancashire, it lies 4 miles (6.4 km) from Manchester city centre, about 0.4 miles (0.6 km) south of Fallowfield, 0.5 miles (0.8 km) north-east of Didsbury and 1 mile (1.6 km) east of Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Withington has a population of just over 14,000 people, reducing at the 2011 census to 13,422.

A medallion portrait was engraved for Threads from the Life of John Mills (1899). A collection of Ireland's books was presented in 1895 to the Manchester Free Reference Library by Thomas Read Wilkinson, and a catalogue was issued in 1898. Ireland had possessed a fine library, rich in editions of the Anatomy of Melancholy ; but much of it had had to be sold. [1]


Ireland prepared a bibliography of Leigh Hunt's writings, with a similar list of William Hazlitt's, and printed in a limited edition in 1868. In 1889 he edited a selection from Hazlitt's works, prefaced by a memoir. On Emerson's death in 1882 he published a biography of him, with his own recollections; it was enlarged and reissued within a year as Ralph Waldo Emerson: His Life, Genius, and Writings. In the same year he published at Manchester Recollections of George Dawson and His Lectures in Manchester in 1846-7. A well-known publication was The Book-Lover's Enchiridion, a collection of passages in praise of books selected from a wide range of authors. It was published in 1882 under the pseudonym of "Philobiblos", and went through five editions. [1]


Ireland was twice married: first, in 1839, to Eliza Mary, daughter of Frederick Blyth of Birmingham, who died in 1842. Annie Elizabeth Nicholson, Ireland's second wife, whom he married in 1866, was the sister of Henry Alleyne Nicholson. She was the biographer of Jane Welsh Carlyle (1891), and the editor of her correspondence with Geraldine Jewsbury (1892); her recollections of James Anthony Froude were published posthumously in the Contemporary Review . She died on 4 October 1893. [1] Alexander and Annie Ireland had five children, the youngest being John Nicholson Ireland the composer. [3] Another son was W. Alleyne Ireland.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Wikisource-logo.svg   Lee, Sidney, ed. (1901). "Ireland, Alexander". Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. Owen, W. B. "Sutton, Henry Septimus". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36376.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  3. Loughlin-Chow, M. Clare. "Ireland, Alexander". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14445.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1901). "Ireland, Alexander". Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

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