BECKFORD, WILLIAM, an English author, the son of Alderman Beckford, who was noted for his manly reply to George III. on the presentation of an address from the city of London, was born in 1761. At the age of nine he inherited a large fortune from his father ; and in early life he travelled in Italy, Sicily, Spain, and Portugal, and resided some time near Gin tra, where he had a princely residence. He afterwards returned to England, and after selling his old house of Fonthill began to build a magnificent residence there, on which he expended in about eighteen years. the sum of £273,000. This, together with its splendid library and pictures, he sold to Mr Farquhar in 1822 ; but soon after one of the towers, 260 feet high, fell, destroying part of the villa in the ruins. Beckford, however, began the erection of another lofty structure on Lansdowne-hill, near Bath, where he continued to reside till his death in 1844. He was a powerful and original writer. His first work, Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters, which appeared in 1780, was a slight sarcastic jeu d'esprit. In 1784 he published in French the singular tale entitled History of tke Caliph Vathek, which soon afterwards appeared in English, and has taken its place as one of the finest productions of richly luxuriant imagination. In 1834 his first Continental tour appeared under the title of Letters from Italy, with Sketches of Spam, and Portugal, a work never, perhaps, surpassed for striking description and refined sarcasm. His latest production, published in 1S35, was entitled Recollections of an Excursion to Alcobaza and Batallia in 1794. All these works exhibit cultivated taste and a remarkable power of vivid description. He left two daughters, the eldest of whom was married to the 10th duke of Hamilton.