Edward Augustus Kendall (1776-1842)

Edward Augustus Kendall, translator, social campaigner and miscellaneous writer, was born about 1776. He died at Pimlico 14 October 1842. He was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Though Americans remember him for his Travels through the Northern Parts of the United States, published in 1809, Kendall’s main claim to fame are his books for children, in which he represented the characters of animals in new ways, giving them a speaking voice. Whilst there were other writers, including Dorothy Kilner, Sarah Trimmer, Anna Laetitia Barbauld and her brother John Aikin, who made smaller contributions, Kendall played a major and crucial part in shifting the representation of animals in literature from the fabulous, the allegorical and the satirical to the naturalistic and empathetic. His Keeper's Travels in Search of His Master, Crested Wren, and Burford Cottage and its Robin Red Breast, are the natural predecessors of Water Babies and The Wind in the Willows. Employing new narrative techniques for representing thought in fiction, Kendall pioneered writers’ attempts to imagine and describe the experiences of animals.

During 1807 and 1808, Kendall travelled through the northern parts of the United States of America, as a result of which he published his historically important three-volume topographical dictionary Travels through the northern parts of the United States. Following this, Kendall spent a number of years in Canada working for the Hudson’s Bay Company; after which spent time in British India and the Cape Colony.

Following his return to England, in 1817 Kendall issued proposals for establishing in London a philanthropic institution to be called The Patriotic Metropolitan Colonial Institution, to assist new settlers to British colonies. He also proposed to form new and distinct colonies for the descendants of mixed raced Anglo Indians, and mixed race West Indians, who early in the nineteenth century were already finding themselves outcast by both the white and ethnic communities. In the same publication, he also proposed the formation of Free Schools of Chemistry and Mathematics, principally to provide a free library for the education of the poor. In 1819, Kendall started The Literary Chronicle and Weekly Review, which continued until 1828, when it was incorporated into the Athenaeum. Kendall went on to found The Olio, or Museum of Entertainment, which ran to eleven volumes from 1828-1833.

His Letters to a Friend, 1836, is a vitriolic on Irish Catholicism, in which he assured the Irish that they lived under a vigorous and paternal government. The duty of that government, he insisted, was to repress Roman Catholicism in Ireland as well as in Great Britain.

In 1815, Kendall published a translation of Louis Bonaparte’s Marie, ou Les peines de l'amour, as Marie, or the Hollanders. The Preface is simply signed E. A. K., but the Longman Divide Ledger 2D, p. 76, tells us that Mr Kendall received the payment of £31. 10. 0. as the Translator.

Towards the end of his life, Kendall wrote The English Boy at the Cape, one of the first novels to be set in South Africa.

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