Waugh, Edwin

Born in Rochdale on 29 January 1817, the son of a shoemaker. On his mother's side he was descended from WM Northumbrian farmers. An outstanding product of WM Sunday School education, he was apprenticed at 12 to a local printer, which nurtured his love of reading. He was Assistant Secretary to the Lancashire Public School Association from 1847 to 1852, before turning to journalism and publishing his own Lancashire dialect verse. At 39 he found sudden fame with his broadsheet Come Whoam to thi' Childer an' Me, depicting the effects of drunkenness on family life. This sold 20,000 copies within days. In contrast, his own marriage failed and in 1856 he moved in with a prosperous Irish widow, Mrs. Moorhouse. The success of his Poems and Songs (1859) enabled him to become a full-time writer. His work included travel books on the Lake District, Scotland and Ireland, and newspaper reports of the Lancashire cotton famine in 1862. But his busy career of public readings ended when his health began to fail c. 1870 and poverty overtook him. He was granted a Civil List pension in 1883 and he retired to New Brighton, near Liverpool. He died at Liscard, Cheshire on 30 April 1890.

  • Martha Vicinus, The Industrial Muse (1984)
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: CJS
Category: Person
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