Leigh Hunt (James Henry Leigh Hunt) (lē), 1784–1859, English poet, critic, and journalist. He was a friend of the eminent literary men of his time, and his home was the gathering place for such notable writers as Hazlitt, Lamb, Keats, and Shelley. With his brother John, Hunt established (1808) the Examiner, a liberal weekly to which he contributed political articles. Because of an outspoken article attacking the prince regent, the brothers were imprisoned from 1813 to 1815, but they continued to edit the journal from jail. In 1822, Hunt joined Shelley and Byron in Italy and launched the Liberal (1822–23), which proved a failure. During other periods Hunt contributed to the Indicator (1819–21), the Tatler (1830–32), and Leigh Hunt's London Journal (1834–35). His literary fame rests chiefly on his miscellaneous light essays, his lyrics Abou Ben Adhem and Jenny Kissed Me, and his witty and informative autobiography (1850). The Story of Rimini (1816), based on the love of Paolo and Francesca, is his only long poem of consequence. A noted dramatic and literary critic, he was one of the first to praise the genius of Shelley and Keats.
See L. H. and C. W. Houtchens, ed., Leigh Hunt's Dramatic Criticism (1949), Leigh Hunt's Literary Criticism (1956), and Leigh Hunt's Political and Occasional Essays (1962); biographies by E. Blunden (1930, repr. 1970), J. R. Thompson (1977), A. Blainey (1985), and A. Holden (2005).