William Henry Giles Kingston

William Henry Giles Kingston

William Henry Giles Kingston (28 February 1814 – 5 August 1880), often credited as W. H. G. Kingston, was an English writer of boys' adventure novels.

William Henry Giles Kingston was born in Harley Street, London, on 28 February 1814. He was the eldest son of Lucy Henry Kingston, and grandson by his mother's side of Sir Giles Rooke, Knight Justice of the Court of Common Pleas. His father was in the wine business in Oporto,[1] and Kingston lived there for many years, making frequent voyages to England and contracting a lifelong affection for the sea. He entered his father's business, but soon indulged his natural bent for writing. His newspaper articles on Portugal were translated into Portuguese, and assisted the conclusion of the commercial treaty with Portugal in 1842, when he received from Donna Mariada Gloria an order of Portuguese knighthood and a pension.

His first book was The Circassian Chief, a story published in 1844, and while still living in Oporto, he wrote The Prime Minister, an historical novel, and Lusitanian Sketches, descriptions of travels in Portugal. Settling in England, he interested himself in the emigration movement, edited in 1844 The Colonist and The Colonial Magazine and East India Review, was honorary secretary of a colonisation society, wrote in 1848 Some Suggestions for a System of General Emigration, lectured on colonisation in 1849, published a manual for colonists, How to Emigrate, in 1850, and visited the western highlands on behalf of the emigration commissioners. He was afterwards a zealous volunteer and worked actively for the improvement of the condition of seamen. But from 1850 his chief occupation was writing books for boys, or editing boys' annuals and weekly periodicals. The Union Jack, a paper for boys, he started only a few months before his death.

On August 4, 1853, Kingston married Agnes Kinloch, daughter of Captain Charles Kinloch who had served in the Peninsular War. The honeymoon was spent in Canada, where Kingston acquired the background for many of his later novels. Agnes Kinloch was privately educated, as was the custom of the time, she sang well, was an accomplished musician, studied art and languages in Europe, and spoke both French and German fluently, a skill which was to be of benefit during her husband's later financial troubles. Although she bore her husband eight children, these all died early and this branch of the family is now extinct.

Kingston's brother, George Kingston (1816–1886), was a Canadian professor, meteorologist, author, and public servant. For successfully promoting and organizing one of Canada's first national scientific services, George Kingston has been called the father of Canadian Meteorology.