Thomas Hood’s father, also named Thomas, was a partner in the book-selling and publishing firm of Vernor and Hood, which produced Poetical Magazine, Lady’s Monthly Museum, and the Monthly Mirror. His mother, Elizabeth Sands, was the daughter of an engraver. Both occupations determined the future career of Thomas Hood, one of six children in the Hood family to survive infancy. Hood’s early education was at an Islington preparatory school, then at the Alfred House Academy at Camberwell Green. The deaths of his father and elder brother in 1811 left Thomas the man of the family, so he took a job clerking to supplement the family income. Poor health forced him to move from clerking to engraving for his uncle, but because his constitution continued to suffer, he was sent in 1815 to live with relatives in Dundee, Scotland, where he continued his apprenticeship in the engraving trade. At Dundee, Hood began writing seriously. His health improved, and he returned to London in the autumn of 1817, where he worked as an engraver until he was hired in 1821 by John Taylor, a former employee of Hood’s father and then editor of the London Magazine. Within a few months, his mother died, leaving Hood the responsibility of providing for four sisters, one of whom also died a short time later.
At the London Magazine, Hood was plunged into the company of many of England’s prominent writers—Charles Lamb, Allan Cunningham, T. G. Wainewright, and John Hamilton Reynolds. Hood’s friendship with Reynolds brought him into close contact with the circle and work of the recently deceased Keats, and Hood strove for several years to imitate the great Romantic’s lush and effusive style....
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