Edward Young

(3 July 1683 - 5 April 1765)
Edward Young (1683-1765)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Edward Young (1683-1765)

Works in ECPA

alphabetical listing / listing in source editions

Source editions

  • Young, Edward, 1683-1765. Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality; and a paraphrase on part of the Book of Job. By the Rev. Edward Young, LL.D., sometime rector of Welwyn, Herts. Revised and collated with the early Quarto editions. With a life of the author by Dr. [John] Doran [poem only]. Illustrated. Third edition. London: William Tegg and Co., 85, Queen-Street, Cheapside, 1859.

Biographical note

Edward Young, the son of a clergyman of the same name (c.1642-1705) and his wife, Judith (1645-1714), was born at his father's rectory at Upham, near Winchester, in 1683. He was educated at Winchester College and Oxford University, and graduated Bachelor of Common Law in 1714, and D.CL. in 1719. Young remained a fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford, until 1730. He began publishing poems in London in 1713, where he frequented literary circles and sought patronage. His many literary acquaintances included George Bubb Dodington, Richard Steele, Joseph Addison, Thomas Tickell, Aaron Hill, Jonathan Swift, and Alexander Pope. Young published poems and a play throughout the 1720s. In 1728 he became a royal chaplain. In 1730 All Souls gave Young a substantial college living, which enabled him to marry Lady Elizabeth Lee (1694-1740) in 1731. For much of the next two decades Young focused on his church and parish. The loss of his wife in 1740 is considered as the main inspiration for Young's blank verse long poem The Complaint; or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality (1742-6), which became an international success. Young became a close literary associate of Samuel Richardson who printed the latter parts of the poem. Young issued an authorized edition of his own Works in four volumes in 1757. He died at his rectory at Welwyn in 1765 and was buried in the parish church. Young's works remained popular throughout the century. William Blake illustrated the Night Thoughts in the late 1790s.


DMI 2355; ODNB 30260


  • Smith, Margaret M. Index of English Literary Manuscripts. Vol. III, 1700-1800 . London: Mansell, 1986-1997. Pt. 4 Sterne-Young. 573-578. Print. 4 volumes.


  • The Works of the English Poets, from Chaucer to Cowper; including the Series Edited, with Prefaces, Biographical and Critical, by Dr Samuel Johnson: and the most approved translations. The Additional Lives by Alexander Chalmers, F.S.A. Vol. XIII. London: J. Johnson et al., 1810. 337-531. Google Books edition. Web. 16 Feb. 2017. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=EWJIAQAAMAAJ&pg=337
  • Young, Edward. Night Thoughts. Edited by Stephen Cornford. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989. Print.


  • May, James E. A Bibliography of Secondary Materials for the Study of Edward Young, 1683-1765. Bulletin of Bibliography 46(4) (1989): 230-248. Print.


  • Forster, Harold. Edward Young: the poet of the Night Thoughts, 1683-1765. Alburgh: The Erskine press, 1986. Print.

Reference works

  • Baines, Paul, Julian Ferraro, Pat Rogers, eds. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Eighteenth-Century Writers and Writing, 1660-1789. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. 377-379. Print.


  • Baker, John A. Is There a Youngian Night?. Soupel, Serge, Kevin L. Cope, and Alexander Pettit, eds., The Enlightenment by Night: Essays on After-Dark Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century. New York, NY: AMS, 2010. 403-429. Print.
  • Byrne, Joseph. William Blake's Illustrations to Night Thoughts: Resistance to Rationalisation in the Late Eighteenth-Century Book Trade. Ionescu, Christina, ed., Book Illustration in the Long Eighteenth Century: Reconfiguring the Visual Periphery of the Text. Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2011. 115-155. Print.
  • Clark, Steve. 'Radical insincerity' in Edward Young's Night Thoughts. British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 20(2) (1997): 173-86. Print.
  • Irlam, Shaun. Elations: The Poetics of Enthusiasm in Eighteenth-Century Britain. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1999. Print.
  • Klimek, Sonja. 'I Grieve' as Make-Believe: Generating Fictional Truth in Eighteenth-Century Lamentation Poetry (Günther, Haller, Young and Novalis). Bareis, J. Alexander and Lene Nordrum, eds., How to Make Believe: The Fictional Truths of the Representational Arts. Berlin, Germany: de Gruyter, 2015. 223-241. Print.
  • Miner, Paul. Blake: Thoughts on Night Thoughts. Notes and Queries 259(1) (2014): 27-33. Print.
  • Odell, D. W. Young's Night Thoughts as an Answer to Pope's Essay on Man. Studies in English Literature 12 (1972): 481-501. Print.
  • Odell, D. W. Genius and analogy in Young's Conjectures and the theology of Night Thoughts. Renascence 64(2) (2012): 143-60. Print.
  • Odell, D. W. Young's Night Thoughts: Christian rationalism or fideism?. English Language Notes 43(1) (2005): 48-59. Print.
  • Perels, Christoph. Von Young zu Novalis: Hardenbergs Hymnen and die Nacht und die Night Thoughts in Deutschland. Feilchenfeldt, Konrad, Ursula Hudson, York-Gothart Mix, and Nicholas Saul, eds., Zwischen Aufklärung und Romantik: Neue Perspektiven der Forschung. Würzburg, Germany: Königshausen & Neumann, 2006. 61-86. Print.
  • Ripley, Wayne C. 'An Age More Curious, Than Devout': The Counter-Enlightenment Edward Young. Eighteenth-Century Studies 49(4) (2016): 507-529. Print.
  • Sitter, John. Theodicy at Mid-Century: Young, Akenside, and Hume. Eighteenth-Century Studies 12 (1978): 90-106. Print.
  • Swidzinski, Joshua. 'Great Labour Both of Mind and Tongue': Articulacy and Interiority in Young's Night Thoughts and Richardson's Clarissa. Parker, Kate, Courtney Weiss Smith, and Margaret Doody, eds., Eighteenth-Century Poetry and the Rise of the Novel Reconsidered. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell UP, 2014. 161-186. Print.