This is the first full-scale biography of the poet and playwright for forty years. On the personal side it places him in his social and cultural setting: as a welcome member of the disparate circles that surrounded Alexander Pope, Richard Savage, Aaron Hill, James Quin, George Bubb Dodington,George Lyttelton, Lady Hertford, and Frederick, Prince of Wales. More significantly, for the first time Thomson's involvement in politics is thoroughly explored. The analysis of his Scottish Whiggism and his role as the poet of Britannia and Liberty places the poetry in a clear ideological light,which at once deepens our understanding of Thomson the man, and illuminates the political groupings of the period. Drawing on his deep understanding of Thomson's poetry, which he edited for the Oxford English Texts series, James Sambrook also supplies a full critical analysis of the whole body of Thomson's writings that is unrivalled in its depth. This new Life maintains an even balance between biography,history, and literary criticism, and forms both an impressive study of the man and a companion to the highly praised Oxford English Texts edition of the poems.