He was born at Auchintoul, Aberdeenshire. He was educated at the University of Aberdeen, and spent a year at Merton College, Oxford. He was assistant professor under Alexander Bain at Aberdeen for some years; from 1874 to 1878 he edited the Examiner, and in 1880 he was made full professor of logic and English at Aberdeen.
In 1872 he published a Manual of English Prose Literature, which was distinguished by sound judgment and sympathetic appreciation; and his Characteristics of English Poets from Chaucer to Shirley (1874) showed the same high qualities. His other works include:
- The Literature of the Georgian Era (1894) edited with a biographical introduction by W Knight
- Logic: Inductive and Deductive (1893)
- a monograph on Defoe in the "English Men of Letters" series (1879)
- three novels
- numerous articles on literary subjects in the 9th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.
On 8 January 1880 Minto married Cornelia, daughter of the Rev. Lewis Griffiths, rector of Swindon, Gloucestershire. He had two sons, William and Charles. The elder died during celebrations to mark the end of the First World War when a shell misfired.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Minto, William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
- William Minto on SF Encyclopedia.
- Works by William Minto at Project Gutenberg
- Works by William Minto at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
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