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James Tytler (1747-1805) - Writer

Commonly known as 'Balloon'. He was born in Brechin, Scotland, the son of a minister. His education as a medical student at the University of Edinburgh was halted by a lack of funds and he became an apothecary in a shop in Leith. Debt forced him to leave Edinburgh but he returned in 1772 to take up residence in the debtors' sanctuary in Holyrood. There he edited a number of unsuccessful newspapers and journals and worked on the second edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His interests turned to ballooning in 1784 and in August that year he became the first man in Britain to navigate a Montgolfier hot-air balloon, reaching a height of 350 feet. Among his literary works are several essays on historical matters and a number of songs in the folk tradition. In 1792 he published a journal, The Historical Register or Edinburgh Monthly Intelligencer in which he advocated ideas for parliamentary reform which were in advance of their time. Forced to flee the country, he settled in Salem, Massachusetts, where he died in 1805.

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