William Black, a Scottish novelist, was born near Glasgow November 15, 1841, the son of James Black, a merchant. He studied in private schools and at the School of Art, Glasgow. The death of his father in 1855 made it necessary for him to earn a living, so, feeling that he was not a success as a landscape painter, he turned to writing. He contributed reviews, poetry, and essays to the Glasgow Weekly Citizen. In 1864 his first novel, "James Merle," was published but proved a failure. This, together with a love affair with an actress, led him to leave Glasgow for London, where he first became a clerk in a bank and later a reporter on the London Morning Star. He married Augusta Wentzel, a German girl who had been in England only a year, on April 8, 1865. She died a year later, leaving him a son who lived but five years. In 1866 he represented his paper in Germany during the Prussian-Austrian war of that year. On his return to London in the autumn, he wrote for the Star and the London Review, and in 1870 became assistant editor of the Daily News. His success as a novelist, however, permitted him to abandon journalism entirely in 1874, and he spent much time in traveling and yachting. He married his second wife, Eva Simpson, in 1874, and four years later removed to Brighton. He visited the United States in 1876, and died December 10, 1898, continuing his writing to the end. In all he wrote about forty novels which have been often republished. "Three Feathers," first published in 1875, and "Maid of Killeena" in 1874, were the only novels reprinted by Beadle.
REFERENCES: T. W. Reid, William Black, Novelist, New York, 1902; Allibone, Supplement; The Bookman, New York, VIII, 1899, 404, with portrait; Anon., "William Black's Story of His Life," Literary Digest, XVII, December 24, 1898, with portrait; Anon., "William Black," Book News, IX, 1890, 175-76, with portrait; Victoria Magazine, XXXII, 1878-79, 81, photogravure.
Fireside Library. No. 108
Waverley Library (quarto). No. 115