Campbell was born as son of a Scottish laird and possibly attended Edinburgh University, training as a lawyer before reinventing himself as an architect (possibly under James Smith, 1645-1731, one of Scotland's principal architects). He was already building by 1712 - the same year he designed a house outside London (Wanstead, now demolished). It was also in 1712 that Campbell designed a house in Essex called Wanstead, setting a new standard in classical design without the extravagances of Hawksmoor and Vanbrugh (since demolished). And it was around now that he was approached by a publisher to put his name to a work called Vitruvius Britannicus - a work on current British architecture, providing an introduction extolling Palladio and Jones, contributing to the selections and adding his own works (1715). The book was immediately successful and became quite influential (there was a second volume in 1717 and a third in 1725). In 1719 he was appointed as Architect to the Prince of Wales and met Lord Burlington, whom he encouraged to make another visit to Italy and for whom he undertook some remodelling at Burlington House. Upon Wren's death (in 1726), and midst some intrigue, Campbell became the surveyor at Greenwich, under the man who briefly replaced Wren, William Benson (1682-1754; later dismissed for ineptitude; Campbell had illustrated one of his designs in the Britannicus). Between 1720-25 Campbell designed and built Mereworth in Kent - a work referencing the Villa Rotonda and preceding Burlington's similar work at Chiswick. His reputation soon faded after his death in 1729, but he was buried at Westminster Abbey. Outside London Campbell worked with Burlington on Holkham Hall, a design exhibiting some of that very 'damn'd gusto' Burlington et al had criticised (compare with Kent's work at Horse Guards).
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