Lives of the Poets: A
Compiled by Nelson Miller
- Lascelles Abercrombie
[Jan. 9, 1881 -- Oct. 27, 1938]
English poet, scholar, and teacher; first volume of poetry Interludes and Poems published in 1908, followed by very productive 6-year period during which much of his best work was in the form of verse "closet dramas" (i. e., plays not intended for actual performance), including The Sale of St. Thomas: Act I in 1911
and The End of the World in 1914; declared physically unfit for
military service, worked as munitions inspector during World War I;
beginning in 1919, received appointments as lecturer and reader at Leeds, London, and finally Oxford Universities; wrote a number of scholarly works including English Prosody (1929) and Poetry: Its Music and Meaning (1932); his work and ideas highly influential on British poets of 1920s and 1930s; Collected Poems published by Oxford in 1930, and the completed version of his finest work, The Sale of St. Thomas, in 1931.
- Franklin Pierce Adams
[Nov. 15, 1881 -- May 23, 1960]
American poet, humorist, playwright, syndicated columnist, and radio personality; wrote columns noted for their learning, satire, and wit for (successively) New York Evening Mail, New York Tribune, New York World, New York Herald-Tribune,and New York Post; collaborated in 1909 with O. Henry on Lo, a Broadway musical comedy, and involved with other plays, as well; during the late 1930s and 1940s, appeared as a regular panel member on a number of national radio quiz programs such as Information Please!; his books included Tobogganing on Parnassus (1911), In Other Words (1914), Weights and Measures (1917), Something Else Again (1920), So There! (1922), Half a Loaf (1927),and Diary of Our Own Samuel Pepys (1935).
- Henry Brooks Adams
[Feb. 16, 1838--March 27, 1918]
American poet, novelist, journalist, editor, teacher, biographer, and historian; grandson of John Quincy Adams and great-grandson of John Adams; educated at Harvard, and in Berlin and Dresden; worked as journalist in London and Washington; taught history at Harvard 1870-1877; edited North American Review 1870-1876; published Democracy, a novel attacking govermental corruption in 1880; another novel Esther published 1884; published biographies of Albert Gallatin (1879), John Randolph (1882) and George Cabot Lodge (1911); traveled widely in Europe, Egypt, Japan, the South Pacific (meeting Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa), Cuba, and Mexico; published his most important historical work History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in nine volumes between 1889 and 1891; best known works Mont Saint Michel and Chartres (1904) and The Education of Henry Adams (1907) originally published privately; trade edition of The Education awarded Pulitzer Prize posthumously.
- John Quincy Adams
[July 11, 1767--Feb. 28, 1848]
American poet, diplomat, sixth President of the United States; son of the second President John Adams; educated in Paris, Amsterdam, Leyden, and at Harvard; served as minister to the Netherlands (1794-1797), Prussia (1797-1801), Russia (1809-1814), and Great Britain (1815-1817); chief American negotiator of Treaty of Ghent which ended the War of 1812 (1814); Secretary of State under Monroe (1817-1825); President (1825-1829); elected to House of Representatives 1830, serving until his death (the only former President to serve in the House), during which time he actively supported the abolition of slavery.
- Sarah Flower Adams
[Feb. 22, 1805--August 1848]
English poet and hymnist; most significant work was Vivia
Perpetua (1841), a closet drama about the title character's conversion to Christianity; wrote a number of poems, most not published until after her death, on social and political subjects for the Anti-Corn Law League; best known for her hymns which were set to music by her sister.
- Joseph Addison
[May 1, 1672--June 17, 1719]
English poet, playwright, essayist, classical scholar, and critic;
traveled widely in Europe, meeting important literary figures between 1699 and 1703; held a number of minor political appointments as a result of his support of the Whig Party; his tragedy Cato produced 1713; best known for his numerous essays on literary, social, and political subjects: 41 written alone and 34 in collaboration with Richard Steele for The Tatler (1709-1711), 274 written for The Spectator (1710-1712), and 51 for The Guardian (1713).
- AE (George William Russell)
[April 10, 1867--July 17, 1935]
Irish poet, novelist, painter, economist, journalist, and editor; gave up painting in his twenties to concentrate on writing; close friend of Yeats who involved him in Irish nationalism movement and interested him in mystical theosophy which became an important element in much of his poetry; first volume of poetry Homeward: Songs of the Way published in 1894; edited Irish Homestead from 1906 to 1923 and its successor Irish Statesman from 1923 to 1930, periodicals which became the primary forum for his ideas on economic and political reform in Ireland; published two books on economic reform, Cooperation and Nationality in 1912 and The National Being in 1916; wrote two novels, The Interpreters (1922) and The Avatars (1933); his Collected Poems published 1913, with a second edition in 1926; in 1932, published a prose commentary on his own poetry, Song and Its Fountains.
- Conrad Potter Aiken
[August 5, 1889--August 17,1973]
American poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, and critic; his father killed his mother and committed suicide when Aiken was 11; raised by family members; attended Harvard; first volume Earth Triumphant published 1914, the first of almost 50 volumes of poetry, fiction, and essays; visited Europe frequently and lived for several years in England between 1916 and 1926; his books of poetry include The Jig of Forslin: A Symphony (1916), Senlin: A Biography, and Other Poems (1918), The House of Dust: A Symphony (1920), The Coming Forth by Day of Osiris Jones (1931), Preludes for Memnon (1931), And In The Human Heart (1940), Brownstone Eclogues (1942), A Letter from Li Po (1955), and The Morning Song of Lord Zero (1963); his Selected Poems (1930) won the Pulitzer Prize and his Collected Poems (1953, with a second edition in 1970) won a National Book Award; other works include such novels asBlue Voyage (1927), A Heart for the Gods of Mexico (1939), and Conversation; or, Pilgrim's Progress (1940), critical works such as A Reviewer's ABC (1958), and a psychological autobiography Ushant (1952).
- Mark Akenside
[Nov. 9, 1721--June 23, 1770]
English poet, essayist, editor, and physician; son of a butcher, his foot was permanently injured when his father's cleaver accidently fell on it; first poem "The Virtuoso" in Spenserian stanzas published in Gentleman's Magazine in 1737 when he was 16, starting a fad for writing poems in Spenserian stanza taken up by such poets as William Shenstone and James Thomson; became a regular contributer to Gentleman's Magazine; began his best-known work The Pleasures of Imagination in 1738 at age 17; after briefly undergoing training as a dissenting minister, changed his mind and began practicing as a surgeon by 1741; Pleasures of the Imagination published on Pope's recommendation in January 1744 and was immediate success; went to Europe in April 1744 and took medical degree in Leyden that year, returning to England in early 1745; published Ode on Several Subjects in 1745, and began medical practice in London; became editor of magazine The Museum in 1746 and wrote numerous essays for it until its demise later that year; as his medical practice flourished, his poetic interests waned; elected to Royal Society in 1753 and made Fellow of College of Physicians in 1754; appointed one of the Physicians-in-Ordinary to the Queen in 1761; his collected Poems published posthumously in 1772.
- Zoe Akins
[Oct. 30,1886--Oct. 29, 1953]
American poet, playwright, and screenwriter; first successful play was Declassee (1919) following several failures and a bout with
tuberculosis; The Greeks Had A Word For It (1930), a comedy, later became the basis for the screenplay of How To Marry A Millionaire; as few of her plays had been particularly successful, moved to Hollywood from New York in 1930 and began to write screenplays such as Morning Glory (1934) and Camille (1937); her play The Old Maiden, based on Edith Wharton's novel of the same name, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1935, but caused a furor among critics as it was an adaptation, not an original work, and led to the establishment of the "Critics' Choice Award" (which she never won) as an alternative to the Pulitzer.
- Louisa May Alcott
[Nov. 29, 1832--Mar. 6, 1888]
American poet, novelist, and editor; daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott who was a close friend and associate of Emerson and Thoreau, who were frequent visitors, and Hawthorne, their next-door neighbor; educated at home, with Thoreau as one of her tutors; began writing at the age of 16; interested in the theatre in her teens and early twenties and wrote a number of plays, including The Bandit's Bride and The Rival Prima Donnas, none of which were produced; her first book Flower Fables published in 1854; by 1860, was contributing fiction and poetry regularly to The Atlantic Monthly in order to help support her family; during first half of Civil War, worked as nurse in a Union hospital until her health gave way; letters written to her family during this time published very successfully in 1863 as Hospital Sketches; first novel Moods published in 1864; visited Europe in 1865; became editor of children's magazine Merry's Museum in 1867; first volume of Little Women published 1868 and was highly successful; second volume published 1869; her following works included among others An Old-Fashioned Girl (1870), Little Men (1871), Work (1873), Eight Cousins (1875), Rose in Bloom (1876), Under the Lilacs (1880), Aunt Jo's Scrapbook (6 volumes, 1872-1882), Lulu's Library (3 volumes, 1886-1889), Jo's Boys (1886), and A Garland for Girls (1888); died only a few days after her father in 1888.
- Edward Godfree "Richard" Aldington
English poet, editor, translator, novelist, biographer; his early
avant garde work attracted the attention of Ezra Pound, who
introduced him to H. D. (Hilda Doolittle); the three became the first
"imagist" poets whose work was enormously influential in the 1910s and
1920s; married H. D. in 1913 but separated in 1919 and later divorced;
worked as secretary to Ford Maddox Ford; served in World War I as a
lieutenant until severely injured by poison gas, the effects of which
combined with "shell-shock" (post-traumatic stress syndrome) lingered
throughout much of his life; published highly successful novel Death of a Hero in 1929; became interested in contemporary French and Italian poetry and published 30 volumes of translations, in addition to 20 or so volumes of his own poetry; wrote a number of biographies including those of Wellington, D. H. Lawrence, and Lawrence of Arabia, the latter of which was highly controversial; edited The Viking Book of Poetry of the English-Speaking World (1941); died during a tour of the Soviet Union.
- Thomas Bailey Aldrich
[Nov. 11, 1836--March 19, 1907]
American poet, fiction writer, and editor; came to New York in early 1850s as a clerk in his uncle's firm, but soon resigned to pursue literary career; published first volume The Bells in 1855; became friends with New York literary circle including Nathaniel Parker Willis (whose Home Journal he edited for a time), Bayard Taylor, Edmund Clarence Stedman, William Winter, and Fitz-James O'Brien; served as war correspondent during first two years of Civil War; after Civil War, moved to Boston and became acquainted with the literary circle there, including Longfellow and Whittier; turned more to fiction writing, including such works as The Story of a Bad Boy (1870), The Queen of Sheba (1877), and his best-known short story "Marjorie Daw" (1873); edited a number of periodicals, most importantly The Atlantic Monthly between 1881 and 1890; dramatic poem Mercedes produced as a play in 1894; died as a result of injuries sustained falling from a horse.
- Cecil Frances Alexander
[1818-Oct. 12, 1895]
English poet and hymnist; she was strongly influenced by the religious revivalism of the Oxford Movement during the mid-nineteenth century; all of her work was religious in nature; first volume was Verses for Holy Seasons (1846); her best-known work was Hymns for Little Children (1848) which went through 69 editions by the end of the century; other works included The Lord of the Forest and His Vassals: An Allegory (1848), Moral Songs (1849), and a number of other volumes of religious songs and hymns for young people.
- William Allingham
[March 19, 1824--Nov. 18, 1889]
Irish poet, editor, and civil servant; given civil service appointment to Customs in 1846; traveled often to London and became close friends with Leigh Hunt, Thomas Carlyle, Coventry Patmore, Tennyson, and the Rossettis; first volume Poems published in 1850; other volumes included Day and Night Songs (1854), Fifty Modern Poems (1865), a long narrative poem Laurence Bloomfield in Ireland (1864), Songs, Ballads, and Stories (1877), Blackberries (1884), and his Collected Works in 6 volumes (1888-1893); after retiring from civil service in 1870, moved to London and assumed editorship of Fraser's Magazine, one of the most influential literary magazines of the period, from 1870 to 1879.
- Washington Allston
[Nov. 5, 1779--July 9, 1843]
American poet, novelist, essayist, and artist; attended Harvard
1796-1800; upon graduation, sold his family's South Carolina plantation
which he had inherited and went to Europe to study art; studied at Royal Academy in London with West and Fuseli (1801-1803); traveled to Paris, Switzerland, and Rome, where he painted his first major works and became close friends with Washington Irving and Samuel Coleridge Taylor; returned to America in 1808 and settled in Boston until 1813; during this period, wrote virtually all of his poetry, published as The Sylphs of the Seasons in 1813 and highly praised by Coleridge; returned to England in 1813; contracted illness that permanently weaked his health; devoted himself to religious subjects in his art; returned to Boston in 1818; contributed essays on art to Richard Henry Dana's magazine The Idle Man; moved in late 1820s from large-scale religious paintings to smaller landscapes and portraits; published Monaldi, A Tale, a Gothic novel set in Italy, in 1841, although it was written more than 20 years earlier; Lectures on Art, and Poems (1850), edited by Dana and published posthumously.
- 'Alqamah ibn 'Abadah
[fl. c.A. D. 590]
Arabic poet who was associated with the court of the Lakhmid dynasty kings of al-Hirah in Iraq in the years immediately preceding the advent of Islam; 'Alqamah is one of a group of poets known collectively as al-muqillun, "poets of whose work little survives"; what does remain of his poetry is found in the al-Mufaaliyat ("The Examination of al-Mufaal"), a collection of ancient poems compiled by al-Mufaal ibn Muhammad ibn Ya'lah between 762 and 784 who set down these poems based on the memories of a number of rawi ("professional poetry reciters").
[c.570 B. C.--c.485 B. C.]
Greek lyric poet; born in the city of Teos in Ionia (now Sighajik,
Turkey); fled Teos when it was overrun by Persian expansion around 545; helped found colony city of Abdera in Thrace; invited to the court of the tyrant Polycrates of Samos to teach music and poetry to Polycrates' son and remained there until Polycrates' overthrow in 522; invited then to Athens by Hipparchus, brother of Athen's ruler Hippias; invited next in 514 to royal court of Thessaly; appears to have returned to Athens a few years later, and possibly lived there for the remainder of his life; tradition indicates he died at the age of 85 by choking on a grape pip; the city of Athens erected a statue on the Acropolis in his memory; his poetry, less metrically complex than that of his predecessors, is urbane, witty, and ironic in tone; of the 50-odd poems of his which remain, the majority deal with enjoying the pleasures of life.
- Sir Edwin Arnold
[June 10, 1832--March 24, 1904]
English poet, educator, journalist, editor, translator, and travel writer; won Newdigate Prize at Oxford for poem on "Belshazzar's Feast" in 1852; first volume of poetry Poems Narrative and Lyrical published 1853; went to India in 1856 as principle of Deccan College; while there, elected Fellow of Bombay University, learned Sanskrit and other Indian languages as well as Turkish and Persian, and published translations of Sanskrit texts; returned to England in 1861 and became staff writer for
The Daily Telegraph, rising to chief editor by 1873 and succeeding in making the Telegraph the most authoritative source of information and news about the East; The Light of Asia, a blank-verse epic poem about the life of Buddha, published in 1879 and became instant success, with 60 British and 80 American editions by the end of the century (a sequel, The Light of the World, published in 1891, was a complete failure); knighted by Queen Victoria; beginning in 1888, traveled to Japan,
for which he developed a strong attraction, to which he returned many times, and about which he wrote a number of books introducing Japanese culture to the West, including East and West (1896); wrote a number of other books about his travels and experiences in the East; published over a dozen volumes of original poetry and about the same number of translations of poetry from Greek, Sanskrit, and Turkish.
- Matthew Arnold
[Dec. 24, 1822--April 15, 1888]
English poet, literary critic, educator, and civil servant; son of Dr. Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby; won Newdigate Prize at Oxford for poem on Cromwell (1843); taught briefly at Rugby; first volume of poetry The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems published anonymously 1849; received civil service appointment as Inspector of Schools in 1851; second volume of poetry Empedocles on Etna and Other Poems published anonymously 1852; Poems of Matthew Arnold, consisting of poems drawn from first two volumes, published 1853 with important critical preface; Poems,
Second Series published 1855; named Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1857, a position he held until 1867, during which time a number of his important critical essays written, published in Essays in Criticism in 1865, establishing him as most important literary critic of his generation; wrote several books during 1860s about educational reform; published Culture and Anarchy in 1869 and Literature and Dogma in 1873; retired as Inspector of Schools in 1883; his
Collected Poems in three volumes published 1885; died of heart failure in 1888.
- Kenneth Herbert Ashley
English poet, novelist, journalist, and farmer; published Up Hill and Down Dales (poetry) and Creighton the Admirable (novel); wrote articles for The London Mercury, The Spectator, and The Athenaeum.
- Herbert Ashley
[March 11, 1881--Aug. 5, 1947]
English poet, novelist, and lawyer; second son of the 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith; served in France during World War I, and was officer in Home Guard during World War II; his volumes of poetry were The Volunteer, A Village Sermon, Pillicock Hill, Poems 1912-1933, and Youth in the Skies; his novels were Wind's End, Young Orland, Roon, and Mary Dallon; also wrote a memoir entitled Moments of Memory.
- Alfred Austin
[May 30, 1835--June 2, 1913]
English poet, novelist, essayist, journalist, literary critic, and Poet Laureate; worked as journalist for The Standard from 1866 to 1896, specializing in foreign affairs; first published poetry was Randolph, a narrative poem published in 1854, followed by 20 other volumes including Interludes (1872), Soliloquies in Song (1882), Love's Widowhood (1889), Sacred and Profane Love (1908), and The Human Tragedy published in separate "acts" between 1862 and 1876; also published several dramatic works primarily intended to be read, not acted, including Prince Lucifer (1887) and his laureate piece England's Darling (1896) about Alfred the Great; published several novels including Five Years of It (1858); critical works included New and Old Canons in Criticism (1881), A Vindication of Tennyson (1885), and The Bridling of Pegasus (1910); also published The Garden That I Love in 1894 (second series, 1907), and Autobiography in 1911; named Poet Laureate January 1, 1896.
- Sir Robert Aytoun
Scottish poet, lawyer, and courtier to James I and Charles I; born at Kinaldie Castle in Scotland; took M. A. degree Univeristy of Edinburgh in 1588; visited Europe and studied law in Paris in 1590s, returning to England in 1603; well received at Court of James I, being knighted in 1612; held a number of political appointments, such as Master of the Royal Hospital of St. Katherine, under both James I and Charles I; close personal friend of such figures as Ben Jonson, William Drummond, Thomas Hobbes, and most other literary and intellectual leaders of the day; aside from some Latin verses, only a few poems have been unambiguously identified as his.
- William Edmondstoune Aytoun
[June 23, 1813--Aug. 4, 1865]
Scottish poet, novelist, journalist, anthologist, university professor, lawyer,and Sheriff of Orkney; direct descendent of Sir Robert Aytoun; educated as a lawyer and admitted to Scottish bar in Edinburgh in 1840 after a short time in London; first book of poetry Poland, Homer, and Other Poems (1832); most successful book Lays of the Cavaliers (1848) which went through 18 editions by his death; named Professor at University of Edinburgh in 1845; wrote both fiction and articles on politics for Blackwood's Magazine; also published a volume of translations from Goethe, a verse drama Firmilian, a novel Norman Sinclair, and a 2-volume collection of Ballads of Scotland; named Sheriff of Orkney in 1852, a political appointeeship which did not interfere with any of his other duties; died not long after the death of his wife.