William Sotheby

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Poems by William Sotheby, 1825.

William Sotheby FRS (9 November 1757 – 30 December 1833) was an English poet and translator. He was born into a wealthy London family, the son of William and Elizabeth (née Sloan) Sotheby, and was educated at Harrow School and the Military Academy, Angers, France before joining the army at 17, where he served for six years until 1780.

He then published a few dramas and books of poems that had limited success; his reputation rests upon his translations of the Oberon of Christoph Martin Wieland, the Georgics of Virgil, and the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer. The last two were begun when he was over 70, but he lived to complete them. His Georgics is considered one of the best translations from the classics in the English language.

He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in November 1794.[1]

Sotheby died in London in 1833 and was buried in Hackney churchyard. Joanna Baillie, a close friend of Sotheby's for "nearly thirty years" mourned his passing: "A more generous, high-minded, amiable man never lived, and this, taken together with his great talents & acquirements, makes a Character which cannot be replaced."[2]


  1. ^ "Library and Archive Catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Baillie, Joanna (2010). Thomas McLean, ed. Further Letters of Joanna Baillie. Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-8386-4149-1. 

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