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Robert Blair

Robert Blair (1699 - February 4, 1746) was a Scottish poet.

He was the eldest son of the Rev. Robert Blair, one of the king's chaplains, and was born at Edinburgh. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh and in the Netherlands, and in 1731 was appointed to the living of Athelstaneford in East Lothian. In 1738, he married Isabella, daughter of Professor William Law. His family's wealth gave him leisure for his favourite pursuits: gardening and the study of English poets.

His major work, The Grave (1743), is a poem written in blank verse, and is much less conventional than its gloomy title might lead one to expect. Its religious subject no doubt contributed to its great popularity, especially in Scotland. It inspired William Blake to undertake a series of twelve illustrative designs, which were engraved by Luigi Schiavonetti, and published in 1808.

See the biographical introduction prefixed to Blair's Poetical Works, by Dr Robert Anderson, in his Poets of Great Britain, vol. viii. (1794).

This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.