Tennant was lame from childhood. His father sent him to the University of St Andrews, where he remained for two years. After his return he was clerk of his brothers, a corn manufacturers. In his spare time he learned Hebrew, German and Italian.
He studied Italian verses bore fruit in the mocking heroic poem Anster Fair ( 1812), which is an amusing description of the wedding of " Maggie Lauder ," the heroine of the popular Scottish ballad. It was written in punching and adopted some years later by John Hookham Frere to "the ingenious brothers Whistle Craft" and Byron as a character in Don Juan. The poem used in the form of fantastic, classical allusions as a simple story full of humor and had instant success. It was the first use of this Italian style in Anglo- Saxon countries.
Tennant's brother had since failed commercially and William Tennant was 1812 schoolmaster of the parish of Dunino near St Andrews. From 1816 he earned his doctorate at the School of Lasswade near Edinburgh; from 1819 to the master test at the Dollar Academy, from 1834 on, at Lord Jeffrey, from the Department of Oriental Languages at the University of St. Andrews, the Chair ( having already mastered Hebrew, Arabic and Persian). The Thane of Fife (1822 ) showed the same humorous imagination as Anster fair, but the poem was not of general interest, and sold poorly.
He also wrote a poem in lowländischem Scottish, Papistry Stormed (1827 ); two historical dramas, Cardinal Beaton (1823 ) and John Balliol (1825 ); and a series of Hebrew dramas (1845 ), based on Bible stories. Tennant died on 14 February 1848 in Devon Grove. The Memoirs of Tennant published by MF Connolly 1861.
- Born in 1784
- Died in 1848