Important in the history of the Scottish Enlightenment and 18th-century literature and thought, James Beattie (1735-1803) was a figure of high reputation and influence in a variety of fields, including philosophy, poetry, belles-lettres, education, language and religion. He varied and valuable works in prose and verse are presented here. They form important source documents for all scholars of 18th-century thought. Each features a comprehensive introduction by Beattie scholar Professor Roger J. Robinson.
The main reason for the lasting value of this biography is the wealth of letters it contains, giving the reader a degree of intimacy with Beattie. The strength in Sir William's biographical method lies in the fact that Beattie is, to a considerable extent, made his own biographer.