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Croly was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He took up a curacy in northern Ireland in 1804. In 1810 he moved to London and began a career as a reviewer and journalist. He was theatre critic to The Times by 1813, and worked as a foreign correspondent from 1813 to 1817.
In 1820 he was appointed as a writer for Blackwood's Magazine, and he also contributed to a wide range of other periodicals and newspapers. Croly was also associated with the Tory magazine Britannia. His writing ranged across theatre, poetry, reviews, politics and theology.
His clerical career meanwhile continued, and he was given the rectory of St Benet and St Stephen, Walbrook, in 1835. He was given an honorary doctorate by Trinity College in 1831.
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