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John Brown (1810-82) - Essayist

He was born on 22 September 1810 in Biggar, Lanark-
shire, the son of a minister and biblical scholar of the same name. In 1822 the family moved to Edinburgh and Brown was educated at the High School Of edinburgh and the University, where he studied medicine; Edinburgh was to remain his home until his death on 11th May 1882. During his lifetime Brown lived two lives: he was a well-respected general practitioner and an essayist with a wide circle of literary friends. Renowned as a brilliant conversationalist, something of that easy, flowing style can be found in his essays, published in Horae subsecivae in 1858. He wrote on a variety of subjects, medical and religious, but the volume achieved its greatest fame through Brown's diverting essays on the human nature of dogs, 'Rab and his Friends' and 'Our Dogs'. Brown also wrote about the child author Marjory Fleming, whom he christened 'Pet Marjorie', and he was one of the first to promulgate the legend that she and Sir Walter Scott were intimate friends. Several of the essays were published later in individual volumes and among his other works are Health: Five Lay Sermons to Working People (1862), John Leech (1877) and Thackeray: his Literary Career (1877). In all his work Brown was able to write candidly, yet delightfully, about human nature, and his essays have been compared to those of Charles Lamb (1775- 1834).

Works: Home subsecivae, 3 vols. (1858-82); Rab and his Friends (1859); Letter to Dr Caims (1860); Health: Five Lay Sermons to Working People (1862); Our Dogs (1862); Marjorie Fleming (1863); Minchmore (1864); Jeems the Doorkeeper: a Lay Sermon (1864); Locke and Sydenham (1866); On the Deaths of the Rev. ]. M. Gilchrist, Brown and J. Henderson (1867); John Leech (1877); Thackeray: his Literary Career (1877); Something About a Well with more of our Dogs (1882).

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