English poet, essayist and critic. Son of John Thornton, a London apothecary, and Rebacca ?. Married (1764) to Sylvia Brathwaite. Father of Robert J. Thornton (1768-1837) and two other children. Educated at Westminster School, and at Oxford University. BA From Christ Church, Oxford, in 1747, MA in 1750 and MB in 1754.
In 1752 he founded the Drury Lane Journal, a satirical periodical which was, among other things, making fun of other journals such as Johnson's Rambler, The Gentleman's Magazine and The London Magazine. A total of 12 issues were published between January and April 1752. From 1754 to 1756 he published, with George Colman, a six-page weekly serial The Connoisseur, which, although criticised by Dr Johnson for lack of substance, ran to an impressive 140 issues. A frequent contributor to The Gentleman's Magazine. In 1767 was published his translations of the comedies of Plautus.
- 1Sources includes Graham, Walter, et. al (1930): English Literary Periodicals and the Dictionary of National Biography.
Thornton praised the published correspondence of James Boswell and Andrew Erskine in The Public Advertiser, to the great joy of Boswell. According to Pottle,1 Boswell and Erskine were much inspired by the writings and partnership of Thornton and Colman, and their Edinburgh Soaping Club might also have been inspired by the Nonsense Club. When, on May 24, 1763, Boswell and Thornton were joined by Charles Churchill, John Wilkes and Robert Lloyd, Boswell described himself as being "[in] the middle of the London Geniuses". He mentions introducing Erskine to Thornton on June 1, 1763.
It is often possible to find copies of Bonnell Thornton's writings via the AbeBooks used books search engine. Search for Bonnell Thornton under keywords (not author, as he published some articles in books edited by other people, and sometimes wrote under a pseudonym). Collections of The Connoisseur are also available