Born in Bath, Somerset, on 27 January 1771 Linley was the youngest child of Thomas Linley and Mary Johnson (1729–1820). Educated at Harrow and then St Paul's School, additional tutoring in musical disciplines was provided by his father and Carl Friedrich Abel.
He joined the British East India Company and was in India 1790-5 and 1800-5, holding a writership at their College in Madras. He retired from the company in 1810 and devoted himself to singing, composing glees and songs and writing literature. He bequeathed his collection of family portraits to Dulwich Picture Gallery.
The Linley portrait collection: seven musical siblings
Thomas Linley the younger, William’s elder brother
Samuel, William's brother
Ozias, William's brother
Maria, William's sister
- Cowgill, Rachel (1999), "Linley family", An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acref/9780199245437.001.0001, retrieved 24 December 2014, (Subscription required ())
- Johnstone, H. Diack (2004), "Linley, William (1771–1835)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online January 2008 ed.), Oxford University Press, retrieved 24 December 2014, (Subscription required ())
- Beechey, Gwilym; Troost, Linda, "Linley", Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, retrieved 24 December 2014, (Subscription required ())
- "William Linley". Dulwich Picture Gallery. Archived from the original on 24 December 2014. Retrieved 24 December 2014.
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