Thomas Pringle was born at Blakelaw, Kelso on 5th January 1789. He attended Kelso Grammar School and Edinburgh University. He became clerk, Commissioner of the Public Records of Scotland, and co-editor of the 'Edinburgh Monthly Magazine' and 'Constable's Magazine'.
At the age of thirty, he left for South Africa with other members of his family. While there, he wrote poems about life there, which earned him some renown. His early poems were published in two volumes, and his account of life in South Africa was published as 'African Sketches' in 1834, just before his death in London, to which he had returned in 1826 to become Secretary to the Anti-Slavery Society. Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote to Pringle expressing the opinion that his poem 'Afar in the Desert' was one of the 'two or three most perfect lyric poems'.