Birthplace: London, England
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Playwright, Author
Executive summary: The Progress of Wit
English author, born in London on the 10th of February 1685. He was the son of George Hill of Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, who contrived to sell an estate entailed on his son. In his fourteenth year he left Westminster School to go to Constantinople, where William, Lord Paget de Beaudesert (1637-1713), a relative of his mother, was ambassador. Paget sent him, under care of a tutor, to travel in Palestine and Egypt, and he returned to England in 1703. He was estranged from his patron by the "envious fears and malice of a certain female", and again went abroad as companion to Sir William Wentworth. On his return home in 1709 he published A Full and Just Account of the Present State of the Ottoman Empire, a production of which he was afterwards much ashamed, and he addressed his poem of Camillus to Charles Mordaunt, earl of Peterborough. In the same year he is said to have been manager of Drury Lane Theatre and in 1710 of the Haymarket. His first play, Elfrid: or The Fair Inconstant (afterwards revised as Athelwold), was produced at Drury Lane in 1709. His connection with the theater was of short duration, and the rest of his life was spent in ingenious commercial enterprises, none of which were successful, and in literary pursuits. He formed a company to extract oil from beechmast, another for the colonization of the district to be known later as Georgia, a third to supply wood for naval construction from Scotland, and a fourth for the manufacture of potash. In 1730 he wrote The Progress of Wit, being a caveat for the use of an Eminent Writer. The "eminent writer" was Alexander Pope, who had introduced him into The Dunciad as one of the competitors for the prize offered by the goddess of Dullness, though the satire was qualified by an oblique compliment. A note in the edition of 1729 on the obnoxious passage, in which, however, the original initial was replaced by asterisks, gave Hill great offense. He wrote to Pope complaining of his treatment, and received a reply in which Pope denied responsibility for the notes. Hill appears to have been a persistent correspondent, and inflicted on Pope a series of letters, which are printed in Elwin & Courthope's edition. Hill died on the 8th of February 1750, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. The best of his plays were Zara (acted 1735) and Merope (1749), both adaptations from Voltaire. He also published two series of periodical essays, The Prompter (1735) and, with William Bond, The Plaindealer (1724). He was generous to fellow men of letters, and his letters to Richard Savage, whom he helped considerably, show his character in a very amiable light. The Works of the late Aaron Hill, consisting of letters..., original poems... With an essay on the Art of Acting appeared in 1753, and his Dramatic Works in 1760. His Poetical Works are included in Anderson's and other editions of the British poets. A full account of his life is provided by an anonymous writer in Theophilus Cibber's Lives of the Poets, volume 5.
Father: George Hill
High School: Westminster School
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