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Rabindranath Tagore

Rabindranath Tagoreα (Bengali: রবীন্দ্রনাথ ঠাকুর; 7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) was an Indian Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. In translation his poetry was viewed as spiritual and mercurial; his seemingly mesmeric personality, flowing hair, and other-worldly dress earned him a prophet-like reputation in the West. His "elegant prose and magical poetry" remain largely unknown outside Bengal. A Pirali Brahmin from Calcutta, Tagore wrote poetry as an eight-year-old. At age sixteen, he released his first substantial poems under the pseudonym Bhānusiṃha ("Sun Lion"), which were seized upon by literary authorities as long-lost classics. He graduated to his first short stories and dramas—and the aegis of his birth name—by 1877. As a humanist, universalist internationalist, and strident anti-nationalist he denounced the Raj and advocated independence from Britain. As an exponent of the Bengal Renaissance, he advanced a vast canon that comprised paintings, sketches and doodles, hundreds of texts, and some two thousand songs; his legacy endures also in the institution he founded, Visva-Bharati University. Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms and resisting linguistic strictures. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to topics political and personal. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed—or panned—for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and unnatural contemplation. His compositions were chosen by two nations as national anthems: the Republic of India's Jana Gana Mana and Bangladesh's Amar Shonar Bangla; and Sri Lanka's national anthem: Sri Lanka Matha (in Bengali, Apa Sri Lanka, Nama Nama Nama Nama Mata, Sundar Sri Boroni) was also composed by Tagore in Bengali in 1938; later Ananda Samarakoon translated it into Sinhalese language and it was officially adopted as the national anthem of Sri Lanka in 1951. Early life: 1861–1878 The youngest of thirteen surviving children, Tagore was born in the Jorasanko mansion in Calcutta, India to parents Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905) and Sarada Devi (1830–1875). Tagore family patriarchs were the Brahmo founders of the Adi Dharm faith. The loyalist "Prince" Dwarkanath Tagore, who employed European estate managers and visited with Victoria and other royalty, was his paternal grandfather. Debendranath had formulated the Brahmoist philosophies espoused by his friend Ram Mohan Roy, and became focal in Brahmo society after Roy's death. "Rabi" was raised mostly by servants; his mother had died in his early childhood and his father travelled widely. His home hosted the publication of literary magazines; theatre and recitals of both Bengali and Western classical music featured there regularly, as the Jorasanko Tagores were the center of a large and art-loving social group. Tagore's oldest brother Dwijendranath was a respected philosopher and poet. Another brother, Satyendranath, was the first Indian appointed to the elite and formerly all-European Indian Civil Service. Yet another brother, Jyotirindranath, was a musician, composer, and playwright. His sister Swarnakumari became a novelist. Jyotirindranath's wife Kadambari, slightly older than Tagore, was a dear friend and powerful influence. Her abrupt suicide in 1884 left him for years profoundly distraught. Tagore largely avoided classroom schooling and preferred to roam the manor or nearby Bolpur and Panihati, idylls which the family visited. His brother Hemendranath tutored and physically conditioned him—by having him swim the Ganges or trek through hills, by gymnastics, and by practicing judo and wrestling. He learned drawing, anatomy, geography and history, literature, mathematics, Sanskrit, and English—his least favorite subject. Tagore loathed formal education—his scholarly travails at the local Presidency College spanned a single day. Years later he held that proper teaching does not explain things; proper teaching stokes curiosity: “[It] knock[s] at the doors of the mind. If any boy is asked to give an account of what is awakened in him by such knocking, he will probably say something silly. For what happens within is much bigger than what comes out in words. Those who pin their faith on university examinations as the test of education take no account of this.” After he underwent an upanayan initiation at age eleven, he and his father left Calcutta in February 1873 for a months-long tour of the Raj. They visited his father's Santiniketan estate and rested in Amritsar en route to the Himalayan Dhauladhars, their destination being the remote hill station at Dalhousie. Along the way, Tagore read biographies; his father tutored him in history, astronomy, and Sanskrit declensions. He read biographies of Benjamin Franklin among other figures; they discussed Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; and they examined the poetry of Kālidāsa. In mid-April they reached the station, and at 2, metres (7, ft) they settled into a house that sat atop Bakrota Hill. Tagore was taken aback by the region's deep green gorges, alpine forests, and mossy streams and waterfalls. They stayed there for several months and adopted a regime of study and privation that included daily twilight baths taken in icy water. He returned to Jorosanko and completed a set of major works by 1877, one of them a long poem in the Maithili style of Vidyapati; they were published pseudonymously. Regional experts accepted them as the lost works of Bhānusimha, a newly discoveredζ[›] 17th-century Vaishnava poet. He debuted the short-story genre in Bengali with "Bhikharini" ("The Beggar Woman"), and his Sandhya Sangit (1882) includes the famous poem "Nirjharer Swapnabhanga" ("The Rousing of the Waterfall"). Servants subjected him to an almost ludicrous regimentation in a phase he dryly reviled as the "servocracy". His head was water-dunked—to quiet him. He irked his servants by refusing food; he was confined to chalk circles in parody of Sita's forest trial in the Ramayana; and he was regaled with the heroic criminal exploits of Bengal's outlaw-dacoits. Because the Jorasanko manor was in an area of north Calcutta rife with poverty and prostitution, he was forbidden to leave it for any purpose other than traveling to school. He thus became preoccupied with the world outside and with nature. Of his 1873 visit to Santiniketan, he wrote: What I could not see did not take me long to get over—what I did see was quite enough. There was no servant rule, and the only ring which encircled me was the blue of the horizon, drawn around these solitudes by their presiding goddess. Within this I was free to move about as I chose. Shelaidaha: 1878–1901 Because Debendranath wanted his son to become a barrister, Tagore enrolled at a public school in Brighton, East Sussex, England in 1878. He stayed for several months at a house that the Tagore family owned near Brighton and Hove, in Medina Villas; in 1877 his nephew and niece—Suren and Indira Devi, the children of Tagore's brother Satyendranath—were sent together with their mother, Tagore's sister-in-law, to live with him. He briefly read law at University College London, but again left school. He opted instead for independent study of Shakespeare, Religio Medici, Coriolanus, and Antony and Cleopatra. Lively English, Irish, and Scottish folk tunes impressed Tagore, whose own tradition of Nidhubabu-authored kirtans and tappas and Brahmo hymnody was subdued. In 1880 he returned to Bengal degree-less, resolving to reconcile European novelty with Brahmo traditions, taking the best from each. In 1883 he married Mrinalini Devi, born Bhabatarini, 1873–1902; they had five children, two of whom died in childhood. In 1890 Tagore began managing his vast ancestral estates in Shelaidaha (today a region of Bangladesh); he was joined by his wife and children in 1898. Tagore released his Manasi poems (1890), among his best-known work.[40] As Zamindar Babu, Tagore criss-crossed the riverine holdings in command of the Padma, the luxurious family barge. He collected mostly token rents and blessed villagers who in turn honoured him with banquets—occasionally of dried rice and sour milk.[41] He met Gagan Harkara, through whom he became familiar with Baul Lalon Shah, whose folk songs greatly influenced Tagore.[42] Tagore worked to popularise Lalon's songs. The period 1891–1895, Tagore's Sadhana period, named after one of Tagore's magazines, was his most productive;[18] in these years he wrote more than half the stories of the three-volume, 84-story Galpaguchchha.[29] Its ironic and grave tales examined the voluptuous poverty of an idealised rural Bengal. Santiniketan: 1901–1932 In 1901 Tagore moved to Santiniketan to found an ashram with a marble-floored prayer hall—The Mandir—an experimental school, groves of trees, gardens, a library. There his wife and two of his children died. His father died in 1905. He received monthly payments as part of his inheritance and income from the Maharaja of Tripura, sales of his family's jewelry, his seaside bungalow in Puri, and a derisory 2,000 rupees in book royalties. He gained Bengali and foreign readers alike; he published Naivedya (1901) and Kheya (1906) and translated poems into free verse. In November 1913, Tagore learned he had won that year's Nobel Prize in Literature: the Swedish Academy appreciated the idealistic—and for Westerners—accessible nature of a small body of his translated material focussed on the 1912 Gitanjali: Song Offerings. In 1915, the British Crown granted Tagore a knighthood. He renounced it after the 1919 Jallianwala Bagh massacre. In 1921, Tagore and agricultural economist Leonard Elmhirst set up the "Institute for Rural Reconstruction", later renamed Shriniketan or "Abode of Welfare", in Surul, a village near the ashram. With it, Tagore sought to moderate Gandhi's Swaraj protests, which he occasionally blamed for British India's perceived mental—and thus ultimately colonial—decline. He sought aid from donors, officials, and scholars worldwide to "free village[s] from the shackles of helplessness and ignorance" by "vitalis[ing] knowledge". In the early 1930s he targeted ambient "abnormal caste consciousness" and untouchability. He lectured against these, he penned Dalit heroes for his poems and his dramas, and he campaigned—successfully—to open Guruvayoor Temple to Dalits. Twilight years: 1932–1941 Tagore's life as a "peripatetic litterateur" affirmed his opinion that human divisions were shallow. During a May 1932 visit to a Bedouin encampment in the Iraqi desert, the tribal chief told him that "Our prophet has said that a true Muslim is he by whose words and deeds not the least of his brother-men may ever come to any harm ..." Tagore confided in his diary: "I was startled into recognizing in his words the voice of essential humanity." To the end Tagore scrutinised orthodoxy—and in 1934, he struck. That year, an earthquake hit Bihar and killed thousands. Gandhi hailed it as seismic karma, as divine retribution avenging the oppression of Dalits. Tagore rebuked him for his seemingly ignominious inferences. He mourned the perennial poverty of Calcutta and the socioeconomic decline of Bengal. He detailed these newly plebeian aesthetics in an unrhymed hundred-line poem whose technique of searing double-vision foreshadowed Satyajit Ray's film Apur Sansar. Fifteen new volumes appeared, among them prose-poem works Punashcha (1932), Shes Saptak (1935), and Patraput (1936). Experimentation continued in his prose-songs and dance-dramas: Chitra (1914), Shyama (1939), and Chandalika (1938); and in his novels: Dui Bon (1933), Malancha (1934), and Char Adhyay (1934). Tagore's remit expanded to science in his last years, as hinted in Visva-Parichay, 1937 collection of essays. His respect for scientific laws and his exploration of biology, physics, and astronomy informed his poetry, which exhibited extensive naturalism and verisimilitude. He wove the process of science, the narratives of scientists, into stories in Se (1937), Tin Sangi (1940), and Galpasalpa (1941). His last five years were marked by chronic pain and two long periods of illness. These began when Tagore lost consciousness in late 1937; he remained comatose and near death for a time. This was followed in late 1940 by a similar spell. He never recovered. Poetry from these valetudinary years is among his finest. A period of prolonged agony ended with Tagore's death on 7 August 1941, aged eighty; he was in an upstairs room of the Jorasanko mansion he was raised in. The date is still mourned. A. K. Sen, brother of the first chief election commissioner, received dictation from Tagore on 30 July 1941, a day prior to a scheduled operation: his last poem. I'm lost in the middle of my birthday. I want my friends, their touch, with the earth's last love. I will take life's final offering, I will take the human's last blessing. Today my sack is empty. I have given completely whatever I had to give. In return if I receive anything—some love, some forgiveness—then I will take it with me when I step on the boat that crosses to the festival of the wordless end. Travels Between 1878 and 1932, Tagore set foot in more than thirty countries on five continents. In 1912, he took a sheaf of his translated works to England, where they gained attention from missionary and Gandhi protégé Charles F. Andrews, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Robert Bridges, Ernest Rhys, Thomas Sturge Moore, and others. Yeats wrote the preface to the English translation of Gitanjali; Andrews joined Tagore at Santiniketan. In November 1912 Tagore began touring the United States and the United Kingdom, staying in Butterton, Staffordshire with Andrews's clergymen friends. From May 1916 until April 1917, he lectured in Japan and the United States. He denounced nationalism. His essay "Nationalism in India" was scorned and praised; it was admired by Romain Rolland and other pacifists. Shortly after returning home the 63-year-old Tagore accepted an invitation from the Peruvian government. He travelled to Mexico. Each government pledged US$100, to his school to commemorate the visits. A week after his 6 November 1924 arrival in Buenos Aires, an ill Tagore shifted to the Villa Miralrío at the behest of Victoria Ocampo. He left for home in January 1925. In May 1926 Tagore reached Naples; the next day he met Mussolini in Rome. Their warm rapport ended when Tagore pronounced upon Il Duce's fascist finesse. He had earlier enthused: "[w]ithout any doubt he is a great personality. There is such a massive vigour in that head that it reminds one of Michael Angelo’s chisel." A "fire-bath" of fascism was to have educed "the immortal soul of Italy ... clothed in quenchless light". On 14 July 1927 Tagore and two companions began a four-month tour of Southeast Asia. They visited Bali, Java, Kuala Lumpur, Malacca, Penang, Siam, and Singapore. The resultant travelogues compose Jatri (1929). In early 1930 he left Bengal for a nearly year-long tour of Europe and the United States. Upon returning to Britain—and as his paintings exhibited in Paris and London—he lodged at a Birmingham Quaker settlement. He wrote his Oxford Hibbert Lecturesι[›] and spoke at the annual London Quaker meet. There, addressing relations between the British and the Indians—a topic he would tackle repeatedly over the next two years—Tagore spoke of a "dark chasm of aloofness". He visited Aga Khan III, stayed at Dartington Hall, toured Denmark, Switzerland, and Germany from June to mid-September 1930, then went on into the Soviet Union. In April 1932 Tagore, intrigued by the Persian mystic Hafez, was hosted by Reza Shah Pahlavi. In his other travels, Tagore interacted with Henri Bergson, Albert Einstein, Robert Frost, Thomas Mann, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and Romain Rolland. Visits to Persia and Iraq (in 1932) and Sri Lanka (in 1933) composed Tagore's final foreign tour, and his dislike of communalism and nationalism only deepened. Works Known mostly for his poetry, Tagore wrote novels, essays, short stories, travelogues, dramas, and thousands of songs. Of Tagore's prose, his short stories are perhaps most highly regarded; he is indeed credited with originating the Bengali-language version of the genre. His works are frequently noted for their rhythmic, optimistic, and lyrical nature. Such stories mostly borrow from deceptively simple subject matter: commoners. Tagore's non-fiction grappled with history, linguistics, and spirituality. He wrote autobiographies. His travelogues, essays, and lectures were compiled into several volumes, including Europe Jatrir Patro (Letters from Europe) and Manusher Dhormo (The Religion of Man). His brief chat with Einstein, "Note on the Nature of Reality", is included as an appendix to the latter. On the occasion of Tagore's 150th birthday an anthology (titled Kalanukromik Rabindra Rachanabali) of the total body of his works is currently being published in Bengali in chronological order. This includes all versions of each work and fills about eighty volumes. In 2011, Harvard University Press collaborated with Visva-Bharati University to publish The Essential Tagore, the largest anthology of Tagore's works available in English; it was edited by Fakrul Alam and Radha Chakravarthy and marks the 150th anniversary of Tagore’s birth. Music and art Tagore composed 2, songs and was a prolific painter. His songs compose rabindrasangit ("Tagore Song"), which merges fluidly into his literature, most of which—poems or parts of novels, stories, or plays alike—were lyricised. Influenced by the thumri style of Hindustani music, they ran the entire gamut of human emotion, ranging from his early dirge-like Brahmo devotional hymns to quasi-erotic compositions. They emulated the tonal color of classical ragas to varying extents. Some songs mimicked a given raga's melody and rhythm faithfully; others newly blended elements of different ragas. Yet about nine-tenths of his work was not bhanga gaan, the body of tunes revamped with "fresh value" from select Western, Hindustani, Bengali folk and other regional flavours "external" to Tagore's own ancestral culture. Scholars have attempted to gauge the emotive force and range of Hindustani ragas: [...] the pathos of the purabi raga reminded Tagore of the evening tears of a lonely widow, while kanara was the confused realization of a nocturnal wanderer who had lost his way. In bhupali he seemed to hear a voice in the wind saying 'stop and come hither'.Paraj conveyed to him the deep slumber that overtook one at night’s end. Tagore influenced sitar maestro Vilayat Khan and sarodiyas Buddhadev Dasgupta and Amjad Ali Khan. His songs are widely popular and undergird the Bengali ethos to an extent perhaps rivaling Shakespeare's impact on the English-speaking world. It is said that his songs are the outcome of five centuries of Bengali literary churning and communal yearning. Dhan Gopal Mukerji has said that these songs transcend the mundane to the aesthetic and express all ranges and categories of human emotion. The poet gave voice to all—big or small, rich or poor. The poor Ganges boatman and the rich landlord air their emotions in them. They birthed a distinctive school of music whose practitioners can be fiercely traditional: novel interpretations have drawn severe censure in both West Bengal and Bangladesh. For Bengalis, the songs' appeal, stemming from the combination of emotive strength and beauty described as surpassing even Tagore's poetry, was such that the Modern Review observed that "[t]here is in Bengal no cultured home where Rabindranath's songs are not sung or at least attempted to be sung ... Even illiterate villagers sing his songs". Arthur Strangways of The Observer introduced non-Bengalis to rabindrasangit in The Music of Hindostan, calling it a "vehicle of a personality ... [that] go behind this or that system of music to that beauty of sound which all systems put out their hands to seize." In 1971, Amar Shonar Bangla became the national anthem of Bangladesh. It was written—ironically—to protest the 1905 Partition of Bengal along communal lines: lopping Muslim-majority East Bengal from Hindu-dominated West Bengal was to avert a regional bloodbath. Tagore saw the partition as a ploy to upend the independence movement, and he aimed to rekindle Bengali unity and tar communalism. Jana Gana Mana was written in shadhu-bhasha, a Sanskritised register of Bengali, and is the first of five stanzas of a Brahmo hymn that Tagore composed. It was first sung in 1911 at a Calcutta session of the Indian National Congress and was adopted in 1950 by the Constituent Assembly of the Republic of India as its national anthem. At sixty, Tagore took up drawing and painting; successful exhibitions of his many works—which made a debut appearance in Paris upon encouragement by artists he met in the south of France—were held throughout Europe. He was likely red-green color blind, resulting in works that exhibited strange colour schemes and off-beat aesthetics. Tagore was influenced by scrimshaw from northern New Ireland, Haida carvings from British Columbia, and woodcuts by Max Pechstein. His artist's eye for his handwriting were revealed in the simple artistic and rhythmic leitmotifs embellishing the scribbles, cross-outs, and word layouts of his manuscripts. Some of Tagore's lyrics corresponded in a synesthetic sense with particular paintings. Theatre At sixteen, Tagore led his brother Jyotirindranath's adaptation of Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. At twenty he wrote his first drama-opera: Valmiki Pratibha (The Genius of Valmiki). In it the pandit Valmiki overcomes his sins, is blessed by Saraswati, and compiles the Rāmāyana. Through it Tagore explores a wide range of dramatic styles and emotions, including usage of revamped kirtans and adaptation of traditional English and Irish folk melodies as drinking songs. Another play, Dak Ghar (The Post Office), describes the child Amal defying his stuffy and puerile confines by ultimately "fall[ing] asleep", hinting his physical death. A story with borderless appeal—gleaning rave reviews in Europe—Dak Ghar dealt with death as, in Tagore's words, "spiritual freedom" from "the world of hoarded wealth and certified creeds". In the Nazi-besieged Warsaw Ghetto, Polish doctor-educator Janusz Korczak had orphans in his care stage The Post Office in July 1942. In The King of Children, biographer Betty Jean Lifton suspected that Korczak, agonising over whether one should determine when and how to die, was easing the children into accepting death. In mid-October, the Nazis sent them to Treblinka. [...] but the meaning is less intellectual, more emotional and simple. The deliverance sought and won by the dying child is the same deliverance which rose before his imagination, [...] when once in the early dawn he heard, amid the noise of a crowd returning from some festival, this line out of an old village song, "Ferryman, take me to the other shore of the river." It may come at any moment of life, though the child discovers it in death, for it always comes at the moment when the "I", seeking no longer for gains that cannot be "assimilated with its spirit", is able to say, "All my work is thine" [...]. —W. B. Yeats, Preface, The Post Office, 1914. His other works fuse lyrical flow and emotional rhythm into a tight focus on a core idea, a break from prior Bengali drama. Tagore sought "the play of feeling and not of action". In 1890 he released what is regarded as his finest drama: Visarjan (Sacrifice). It is an adaptation of Rajarshi, an earlier novella of his. "A forthright denunciation of a meaningless [and] cruel superstitious rite[s]", the Bengali originals feature intricate subplots and prolonged monologues that give play to historical events in seventeenth-century Udaipur. The devout Maharaja of Tripura is pitted against the wicked head priest Raghupati. His latter dramas were more philosophical and allegorical in nature; these included Dak Ghar. Another is Tagore's Chandalika (Untouchable Girl), which was modeled on an ancient Buddhist legend describing how Ananda, the Gautama Buddha's disciple, asks a tribal girl for water. In Raktakarabi ("Red" or "Blood Oleanders"), a kleptocrat rules over the residents of Yakshapuri. He and his retainers exploits his subjects—who are benumbed by alcohol and numbered like inventory—by forcing them to mine gold for him. The naive maiden-heroine Nandini rallies her subject-compatriots to defeat the greed of the realm's sardar class—with the morally roused king's belated help. Skirting the "good-vs-evil" trope, the work pits a vital and joyous lèse majesté against the monotonous fealty of the king's varletry, giving rise to an allegorical struggle akin to that found in Animal Farm or Gulliver's Travels. The original, though prized in Bengal, long failed to spawn a "free and comprehensible" translation, and its archaic and sonorous didacticism failed to attract interest from abroad. Chitrangada, Chandalika, and Shyama are other key plays that have dance-drama adaptations, which together are known as Rabindra Nritya Natya. Novels Tagore wrote eight novels and four novellas, among them Chaturanga, Shesher Kobita, Char Odhay, and Noukadubi. Ghare Baire (The Home and the World)—through the lens of the idealistic zamindar protagonist Nikhil—repudiates the frog-march of nativism, terrorism, and religious querulousness popular among segments of the Swadeshi movement. A frank expression of Tagore's conflicted sentiments, it was conceived of during a 1914 bout of depression. The novel ends in grody Hindu-Muslim interplay and Nikhil's likely death from a head wound. Gora, nominated by many Bengali critics as his finest tale, raises controversies regarding connate identity and its ultimate fungibility. As with Ghare Baire matters of self-identity (jāti), personal freedom, and religion are lividly vivisected in a context of family and romance. In it an Irish boy orphaned in the Sepoy Mutiny is raised by Hindus as the titular gora—"whitey". Ignorant of his foreign origins, he chastises Hindu religious backsliders out of love for the indigenous Indians and solidarity with them against his hegemon-compatriots. He falls for a Brahmo girl, compelling his worried foster father to reveal his lost past and cease his nativist zeal. As a "true dialectic" advancing "arguments for and against strict traditionalism", it tackles the colonial conundrum by "portray[ing] the value of all positions within a particular frame [...] not only syncretism, not only liberal orthodoxy, but the extremest reactionary traditionalism he defends by an appeal to what humans share." Among these Tagore highlights "identity [...] conceived of as dharma." In Jogajog (Relationships), the heroine Kumudini—bound by the ideals of Śiva-Sati, exemplified by Dākshāyani—is torn between her pity for the sinking fortunes of her progressive and compassionate elder brother and his foil: her roue of a husband. Tagore flaunts his feminist leanings; pathos depicts the plight and ultimate demise of women trapped by pregnancy, duty, and family honour; he simultaneously trucks with Bengal's putrescent landed gentry. The story revolves around the underlying rivalry between two families—the Chatterjees, aristocrats now on the decline (Biprodas) and the Ghosals (Madhusudan), representing new money and new arrogance. Kumudini, Biprodas' sister, is caught between the two as she is married off to Madhusudan. She had risen in an observant and sheltered traditional home, as had all her female relations. Others were uplifting: Shesher Kobita—translated twice as Last Poem and Farewell Song—is his most lyrical novel, with poems and rhythmic passages written by a poet protagonist. It contains elements of satire and postmodernism and has stock characters who gleefully attack the reputation of an old, outmoded, oppressively renowned poet who, incidentally, goes by a familiar name: "Rabindranath Tagore". Though his novels remain among the least-appreciated of his works, they have been given renewed attention via film adaptations by Ray and others: Chokher Bali and Ghare Baire are exemplary. In the first, Tagore inscribes Bengali society via its heroine: a rebellious widow who would live for herself alone. He pillories the custom of perpetual mourning on the part of widows, who were not allowed to remarry, who were consigned to seclusion and loneliness. Tagore wrote of it: "I have always regretted the ending". Stories Tagore's three-volume Galpaguchchha comprises eighty-four stories that reflect upon the author's surroundings, on modern and fashionable ideas, and on mind puzzles. Tagore associated his earliest stories, such as those of the "Sadhana" period, with an exuberance of vitality and spontaneity; these traits were cultivated by zamindar Tagore’s life in Patisar, Shajadpur, Shelaidaha, and other villages. Seeing the common and the poor, he examined their lives with a depth and feeling singular in Indian literature up to that point. In "The Fruitseller from Kabul", Tagore speaks in first person as a town dweller and novelist imputing exotic perquisites to an Afghan seller. He channels the lucubrative lust of those mired in the blasé, nidorous, and sudorific morass of subcontinental city life: for distant vistas. "There were autumn mornings, the time of year when kings of old went forth to conquest; and I, never stirring from my little corner in Calcutta, would let my mind wander over the whole world. At the very name of another country, my heart would go out to it [...] I would fall to weaving a network of dreams: the mountains, the glens, the forest [...]." The Golpoguchchho (Bunch of Stories) was written in Tagore's Sabuj Patra period, which lasted from 1914 to 1917 and was named for another of his magazines. These yarns are celebrated fare in Bengali fiction and are commonly used as plot fodder by Bengali film and theatre. The Ray film Charulata echoed the controversial Tagore novella Nastanirh (The Broken Nest). In Atithi, which was made into another film, the little Brahmin boy Tarapada shares a boat ride with a village zamindar. The boy relates his flight from home and his subsequent wanderings. Taking pity, the elder adopts him; he fixes the boy to marry his own daughter. The night before his wedding, Tarapada runs off—again. Strir Patra (The Wife's Letter) is an early treatise in female emancipation. Mrinal is wife to a Bengali middle class man: prissy, preening, and patriarchal. Travelling alone she writes a letter, which comprehends the story. She details the pettiness of a life spent entreating his viraginous virility; she ultimately gives up married life, proclaiming, Amio bachbo. Ei bachlum: "And I shall live. Here, I live." Haimanti assails Hindu arranged marriage and spotlights their often dismal domesticity, the hypocrisies plaguing the Indian middle classes, and how Haimanti, a young woman, due to her insufferable sensitivity and free spirit, foredid herself. In the last passage Tagore blasts the reification of Sita's self-immolation attempt; she had meant to appease her consort Rama's doubts of her chastity. Musalmani Didi eyes recrudescent Hindu-Muslim tensions and, in many ways, embodies the essence of Tagore's humanism. The somewhat auto-referential Darpaharan describes a fey young man who harbours literary ambitions. Though he loves his wife, he wishes to stifle her literary career, deeming it unfeminine. In youth Tagore likely agreed with him. Darpaharan depicts the final humbling of the man as he ultimately acknowledges his wife's talents. As do many other Tagore stories, Jibito o Mrito equips Bengalis with a ubiquitous epigram: Kadombini moriya proman korilo she more nai—"Kadombini died, thereby proving that she hadn't." Poetry Tagore's poetic style, which proceeds from a lineage established by 15th- and 16th-century Vaishnava poets, ranges from classical formalism to the comic, visionary, and ecstatic. He was influenced by the atavistic mysticism of Vyasa and other rishi-authors of the Upanishads, the Bhakti-Sufi mystic Kabir, and Ramprasad Sen. Tagore's most innovative and mature poetry embodies his exposure to Bengali rural folk music, which included mystic Baul ballads such as those of the bard Lalon. These, rediscovered and repopularised by Tagore, resemble 19th-century Kartābhajā hymns that emphasise inward divinity and rebellion against bourgeois bhadralok religious and social orthodoxy. During his Shelaidaha years, his poems took on a lyrical voice of the moner manush, the Bāuls' "man within the heart" and Tagore's “life force of his deep recesses", or meditating upon the jeevan devata—the demiurge or the "living God within". This figure connected with divinity through appeal to nature and the emotional interplay of human drama. Such tools saw use in his Bhānusiṃha poems chronicling the Radha-Krishna romance, which were repeatedly revised over the course of seventy years. Tagore reacted to the halfhearted uptake of modernist and realist techniques in Bengali literature by writing matching experimental works in the 1930s. These include Africa and Camalia, among the better known of his latter poems. He occasionally wrote poems using Shadhu Bhasha, a Sanskritised dialect of Bengali; he later adopted a more popular dialect known as Cholti Bhasha. Other works include Manasi, Sonar Tori (Golden Boat), Balaka (Wild Geese, a name redolent of migrating souls), and Purobi. Sonar Tori's most famous poem, dealing with the fleeting endurance of life and achievement, goes by the same name; hauntingly it ends: Shunno nodir tire rohinu poŗi / Jaha chhilo loe gêlo shonar tori—"all I had achieved was carried off on the golden boat—only I was left behind." Gitanjali (গীতাঞ্জলি) is Tagore's best-known collection internationally, earning him his Nobel. Tagore's poetry has been set to music by composers: Arthur Shepherd's triptych for soprano and string quartet, Alexander Zemlinsky's famous Lyric Symphony, Josef Bohuslav Foerster's cycle of love songs, Leoš Janáček's famous chorus "Potulný šílenec" ("The Wandering Madman") for soprano, tenor, baritone, and male chorus—JW 4/43—inspired by Tagore's 1922 lecture in Czechoslovakia which Janáček attended, and Garry Schyman's "Praan", an adaptation of Tagore's poem "Stream of Life" from Gitanjali. The latter was composed and recorded with vocals by Palbasha Siddique to accompany Internet celebrity Matt Harding's 2008 viral video. In 1917 his words were translated adeptly and set to music by Anglo-Dutch composer Richard Hageman to produce a highly regarded art song: "Do Not Go, My Love". The second movement of Jonathan Harvey's "One Evening" (1994) sets an excerpt beginning "As I was watching the sunrise ..." from a letter of Tagore's, this composer having previously chosen a text by the poet for his piece "Song Offerings" (1985). Politics Tagore's political thought was tortuous. He opposed imperialism and supported Indian nationalists, and these views were first revealed in Manast, which was mostly composed in his twenties. Evidence produced during the Hindu–German Conspiracy Trial and latter accounts affirm his awareness of the Ghadarites, and stated that he sought the support of Japanese Prime Minister Terauchi Masatake and former Premier Ōkuma Shigenobu. Yet he lampooned the Swadeshi movement; he rebuked it in "The Cult of the Charka", an acrid 1925 essay. He urged the masses to avoid victimology and instead seek self-help and education, and he saw the presence of British administration as a "political symptom of our social disease". He maintained that, even for those at the extremes of poverty, "there can be no question of blind revolution"; preferable to it was a "steady and purposeful education”. Such views enraged many. He escaped assassination—and only narrowly—by Indian expatriates during his stay in a San Francisco hotel in late 1916; the plot failed when his would-be assassins fell into argument. Yet Tagore wrote songs lionising the Indian independence movement Two of Tagore's more politically charged compositions, "Chitto Jetha Bhayshunyo" ("Where the Mind is Without Fear") and "Ekla Chalo Re" ("If They Answer Not to Thy Call, Walk Alone"), gained mass appeal, with the latter favoured by Gandhi. Though somewhat critical of Gandhian activism, Tagore was key in resolving a Gandhi–Ambedkar dispute involving separate electorates for untouchables, thereby mooting at least one of Gandhi's fasts "unto death”. Repudiation of knighthood Tagore renounced his knighthood, in response to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, in the repudiation letter to Chelmsford - the Vicerory, he wrote The time has come when badges of honour make our shame glaring in the incongruous context of humiliation, and I for my part, wish to stand, shorn, of all special distinctions, by the side of those of my countrymen who, for their so called insignificance, are liable to suffer degradation not fit for human beings. Santiniketan and Visva-Bharati Tagore despised rote classroom schooling: in "The Parrot's Training", a bird is caged and force-fed textbook pages—to death. Tagore, visiting Santa Barbara in 1917, conceived a new type of university: he sought to "make Santiniketan the connecting thread between India and the world [and] a world center for the study of humanity somewhere beyond the limits of nation and geography." The school, which he named Visva-Bharati,η[›] had its foundation stone laid on 24 December 1918 and was inaugurated precisely three years later. Tagore employed a brahmacharya system: gurus gave pupils personal guidance—emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Teaching was often done under trees. He staffed the school, he contributed his Nobel Prize monies, and his duties as steward-mentor at Santiniketan kept him busy: mornings he taught classes; afternoons and evenings he wrote the students' textbooks. He fundraised widely for the school in Europe and the United States between 1919 and 1921. Impact Every year, many events pay tribute to Tagore: Kabipranam, his birth anniversary, is celebrated by groups scattered across the globe; the annual Tagore Festival held in Urbana, Illinois; Rabindra Path Parikrama walking pilgrimages from Calcutta to Santiniketan; and recitals of his poetry, which are held on important anniversaries. Bengali culture is fraught with this legacy: from language and arts to history and politics. Amartya Sen scantly deemed Tagore a "towering figure", a "deeply relevant and many-sided contemporary thinker". Tagore's Bengali originals—the 1939 Rabīndra Rachanāvalī—is canonised as one of his nation's greatest cultural treasures, and he was roped into a reasonably humble role: "the greatest poet India has produced”. Tagore was renowned throughout much of Europe, North America, and East Asia. He co-founded Dartington Hall School, a progressive coeducational institution; in Japan, he influenced such figures as Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata. Tagore's works were widely translated into English, Dutch, German, Spanish, and other European languages by Czech indologist Vincenc Lesný, French Nobel laureate André Gide, Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, former Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, and others. In the United States, Tagore's lecturing circuits, particularly those of 1916–1917, were widely attended and wildly acclaimed. Some controversiesθ[›] involving Tagore, possibly fictive, trashed his popularity and sales in Japan and North America after the late 1920s, concluding with his "near total eclipse" outside Bengal. Yet a latent reverence of Tagore was discovered by an astonished Salman Rushdie during a trip to Nicaragua. By way of translations, Tagore influenced Chileans Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral; Mexican writer Octavio Paz; and Spaniards José Ortega y Gasset, Zenobia Camprubí, and Juan Ramón Jiménez. In the period 1914–1922, the Jiménez-Camprubí pair produced twenty-two Spanish translations of Tagore's English corpus; they heavily revised the The Crescent Moon and other key titles. In these years, Jiménez developed "naked poetry". Ortega y Gasset wrote that "Tagore's wide appeal [owes to how] he speaks of longings for perfection that we all have [...] Tagore awakens a dormant sense of childish wonder, and he saturates the air with all kinds of enchanting promises for the reader, who [...] pays little attention to the deeper import of Oriental mysticism". Tagore's works circulated in free editions around 1920—alongside those of Plato, Dante, Cervantes, Goethe, and Tolstoy. Tagore was deemed overrated by some. Graham Greene doubted that "anyone but Mr. Yeats can still take his poems very seriously." Several prominent Western admirers—including Pound and, to a lesser extent, even Yeats—criticised Tagore's work. Yeats, unimpressed with his English translations, railed against that "Damn Tagore [...] We got out three good books, Sturge Moore and I, and then, because he thought it more important to know English than to be a great poet, he brought out sentimental rubbish and wrecked his reputation. Tagore does not know English, no Indian knows English." William Radice, who "English[ed]" his poems, asked: "What is their place in world literature?" He saw him as "kind of counter-cultur[al]," bearing "a new kind of classicism" that would heal the "collapsed romantic confusion and chaos of the 20th [c]entury." The translated Tagore was "almost nonsensical", and subpar English offerings reduced his trans-national appeal: [...] anyone who knows Tagore's poems in their original Bengali cannot feel satisfied with any of the translations (made with or without Yeats's help). Even the translations of his prose works suffer, to some extent, from distortion. E.M. Forster noted [of] The Home and the World [that] "[t]he theme is so beautiful," but the charms have "vanished in translation," or perhaps "in an experiment that has not quite come off." References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabindranath_Tagore

R. S. Thomas

Ronald Stuart Thomas (29 March 1913 – 25 September 2000), published as R. S. Thomas, was a Welsh poet and Anglican priest who was noted for his nationalism, spirituality and deep dislike of the anglicisation of Wales. In 1955, John Betjeman, in his introduction to the first collection of Thomas’s poetry to be produced by a major publisher, Song at the Year's Turning, predicted that Thomas would be remembered long after Betjeman himself was forgotten. M. Wynn Thomas said: "He was the Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn of Wales because he was such a troubler of the Welsh conscience. He was one of the major English language and European poets of the 20th century." R. S. Thomas was born in Cardiff, the only child of Thomas Hubert and Margaret (née Davis). The family moved to Holyhead in 1918 because of his father's work in the merchant navy. He was awarded a bursary in 1932 to study at Bangor University, where he read Classics. In 1936, having completed his theological training at St. Michael's College, Llandaff, he was ordained as a priest in the Church in Wales. From 1936 to 1940 he was the curate of Chirk, Denbighshire, where he met his future wife, Mildred (Elsi) Eldridge, an English artist. He subsequently became curate at Tallarn Green, Flintshire. Thomas and Mildred were married in 1940 and remained together until her death in 1991. Their son, Gwydion, was born 29 August 1945. The Thomas family lived on a tiny income and lacked the comforts of modern life, largely by the Thomas's choice. One of the few household amenities the family ever owned, a vacuum cleaner, was rejected because Thomas decided it was too noisy. For twelve years, from 1942 to 1954, Thomas was rector at Manafon, near Welshpool in rural Montgomeryshire. It was during his time at Manafon that he first began to study Welsh and that he published his first three volumes of poetry, The Stones of the Field, An Acre of Land and The Minister. Thomas' poetry achieved a breakthrough with the publication of his fourth book Song at the Year's Turning, in effect a collected edition of his first three volumes, which was critically very well received and opened with Betjeman's famous introduction. His position was also helped by winning the Royal Society of Literature's Heinemann Award. Thomas learnt the Welsh language at age 30, too late in life, he said, to be able to write poetry in it. The 1960s saw him working in a predominantly Welsh speaking community and he later wrote two prose works in Welsh, Neb (English: Nobody), an ironic and revealing autobiography written in the third person, and Blwyddyn yn Llŷn (English: A Year in Llŷn). In 1964 he won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. From 1967 to 1978 he was vicar at St Hywyn's Church (built 1137) in Aberdaron at the western tip of the Llŷn Peninsula. Thomas retired from church ministry in 1978 and he and his wife relocated to Y Rhiw, in "a tiny, unheated cottage in one of the most beautiful parts of Wales, where, however, the temperature sometimes dipped below freezing", according to Theodore Dalrymple. Free from the constraints of the church he was able to become more political and active in the campaigns that were important to him. He became a fierce advocate of Welsh nationalism, although he never supported Plaid Cymru because he believed they did not go far enough in their opposition to England. In 1996 Thomas was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature (the winner that year was Seamus Heaney). Thomas died on 25 September 2000, aged 87, at his home at Pentrefelin near Criccieth. He had been ill with heart trouble and had been treated at Gwynnedd hospital until two weeks before he died. After his death an event celebrating his life and poetry was held in Westminster Abbey with readings from Heaney, Andrew Motion, Gillian Clarke and John Burnside. Thomas's ashes are buried close to the door of St. John's Church, Porthmadog, Gwynedd. Beliefs Thomas believed in what he called "the true Wales of my imagination", a Welsh-speaking, aboriginal community that was in tune with the natural world. He viewed western (specifically English) materialism and greed, represented in the poetry by his mythical "Machine", as the destroyers of community. He could tolerate neither the English who bought up Wales and, in his view, stripped it of its wild and essential nature, nor the Welsh whom he saw as all too eager to kowtow to English money and influence. This may help explain why Thomas was an ardent supporter of CND and described himself as a pacifist but also why he supported the Meibion Glyndŵr fire-bombings of English-owned holiday cottages in rural Wales. On this subject he said in 1998, "what is one death against the death of the whole Welsh nation?" He was also active in wildlife preservation and worked with the RSPB and Welsh volunteer organisations for the preservation of the Red Kite. He resigned his RSPB membership over their plans to introduce non-native kites to Wales. Thomas's son, Gwydion, a resident of Thailand, recalls his father's sermons, in which he would "drone on" to absurd lengths about the evil of refrigerators, washing machines, televisions and other modern devices. Thomas preached that they were all part of the temptation of scrambling after gadgets rather than attending to more spiritual needs. "It was the Machine, you see", Gwydion Thomas explained to a biographer. "This to a congregation that didn’t have any of these things and were longing for them." Although he may have taken some ideas to extreme lengths, Theodore Dalrymple wrote, Thomas "was raising a deep and unanswered question: What is life for? Is it simply to consume more and more, and divert ourselves with ever more elaborate entertainments and gadgetry? What will this do to our souls?" Although he was a cleric, he was not always charitable and was known for being awkward and taciturn. Some critics have interpreted photographs of him as indicating he was "formidable, bad-tempered, and apparently humorless." Works Almost all of Thomas's work concerns the Welsh landscape and the Welsh people, themes with both political and spiritual subtext. His views on the position of the Welsh people, as a conquered people are never far below the surface. As a cleric, his religious views are also present in his works. His earlier works focus on the personal stories of his parishioners, the farm labourers and working men and their wives, challenging the cosy view of the traditional pastoral poem with harsh and vivid descriptions of rural lives. The beauty of the landscape, although ever-present, is never suggested as a compensation for the low pay or monotonous conditions of farm work. This direct view of "country life" comes as a challenge to many English writers writing on similar subjects and challenging the more pastoral works of such as contemporary poets as Dylan Thomas. Thomas's later works were of a more metaphysical nature, more experimental in their style and focusing more overtly on his spirituality. Laboratories of the Spirit (1975) gives, in its title, a hint at this development and also reveals Thomas's increasing experiments with scientific metaphor. He described this shift as an investigation into the "adult geometry of the mind".} Fearing that poetry was becoming a dying art, inaccessible to those who most needed it, "he attempted to make spiritually minded poems relevant within, and relevant to, a science-minded, post-industrial world", to represent that world both in form and in content even as he rejected its machinations. Despite his nationalism Thomas could be hard on his fellow countrymen. Often his works read as more of a criticism of Welshness than a celebration. He himself said there is a "lack of love for human beings" in his poetry. Other critics have not been so harsh. Al Alvarez said: "He was wonderful, very pure, very bitter but the bitterness was beautifully and very sparely rendered. He was completely authoritative, a very, very fine poet, completely off on his own, out of the loop but a real individual. It's not about being a major or minor poet. It's about getting a work absolutely right by your own standards and he did that wonderfully well." Thomas's final works commonly sold 20,000 copies in Britain alone. Books * The Stones of the Field (1946) * An Acre of Land (1952) * The Minister (1953) * Song at the Year's Turning (1955) * Poetry for Supper (1958) * Tares, [Corn-weed] (1961) * The Bread of Truth (1963) * Words and the Poet (1964, lecture) * Pietà (1966) * Not That He Brought Flowers (1968) * H'm (1972) * What is a Welshman? (1974) * Laboratories of the Spirit (1975) * Abercuawg (1976, lecture) * The Way of It (1977) * Frequencies (1978) * Between Here and Now (1981) * Ingrowing Thoughts (1985) * Neb (1985) in Welsh, autobiography, written in the third person * Experimenting with an Amen (1986) * Welsh Airs (1987) * The Echoes Return Slow (1988) * Counterpoint (1990) * Blwyddyn yn Llŷn (1990) in Welsh * Pe Medrwn Yr Iaith : ac ysgrifau eraill ed. Tony Brown & Bedwyr L. Jones, essays in Welsh (1990) * Mass for Hard Times (1992) * No Truce with the Furies (1995) * Autobiographies (1997, collection of prose writings) * Residues (2002, posthumously) References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._S._Thomas

Lord Alfred Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular poets in the English language. Tennyson excelled at penning short lyrics, such as "In the Valley of Cauteretz", "Break, Break, Break", "The Charge of the Light Brigade", "Tears, Idle Tears" and "Crossing the Bar". Much of his verse was based on classical mythological themes, such as Ulysses, although In Memoriam A.H.H. was written to commemorate his best friend Arthur Hallam, a fellow poet and fellow student at Trinity College, Cambridge, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister, but died from a brain haemorrhage before they could marry. Tennyson also wrote some notable blank verse including Idylls of the King, "Ulysses," and "Tithonus." During his career, Tennyson attempted drama, but his plays enjoyed little success. A number of phrases from Tennyson's work have become commonplaces of the English language, including "Nature, red in tooth and claw", "'Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all", "Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die", "My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure", "Knowledge comes, but Wisdom lingers", and "The old order changeth, yielding place to new". He is the ninth most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Early life Tennyson was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, a rector's son and fourth of 12 children. He derived from a middle-class line of Tennysons, but also had noble and royal ancestry. His father, George Clayton Tennyson (1778–1831), was rector of Somersby (1807–1831), also rector of Benniworth and Bag Enderby, and vicar of Grimsby (1815). The rector was the elder of two sons, but was disinherited at an early age by his father, the landowner George Tennyson (1750–1835) (owner of Bayons Manor and Usselby Hall), in favour of his younger brother Charles, who later took the name Charles Tennyson d'Eyncourt. Rev. George Clayton Tennyson raised a large family and "was a man of superior abilities and varied attainments, who tried his hand with fair success in architecture, painting, music, and poetry. He was comfortably well off for a country clergyman and his shrewd money management enabled the family to spend summers at Mablethorpe and Skegness, on the eastern coast of England."[3] Alfred Tennyson's mother, Elizabeth Fytche (1781–1865), was the daughter of Stephen Fytche (1734–1799), vicar of St. James Church, Louth (1764) and rector of Withcall (1780), a small village between Horncastle and Louth. Tennyson's father "carefully attended to the education and training of his children.” Tennyson and two of his elder brothers were writing poetry in their teens, and a collection of poems by all three were published locally when Alfred was only 17. One of those brothers, Charles Tennyson Turner later married Louisa Sellwood, the younger sister of Alfred's future wife; the other was Frederick Tennyson. Another of Tennyson's brothers, Edward Tennyson, was institutionalised at a private asylum, where he died. Education and first publication In the spring of 1831 Tennyson's father died, requiring him to leave Cambridge before taking his degree. He returned to the rectory, where he was permitted to live for another six years, and shared responsibility for his widowed mother and the family. Arthur Hallam came to stay with his family during the summer and became engaged to Tennyson's sister, Emilia Tennyson. In 1833, Tennyson published his second book of poetry, which included his well-known poem, The Lady of Shalott. The volume met heavy criticism, which so discouraged Tennyson that he did not publish again for 10 years, although he continued to write. That same year, Hallam died suddenly and unexpectedly after suffering a cerebral haemorrhage while on vacation in Vienna.[7] Hallam's sudden and unexpected death in 1833 had a profound impact on Tennyson, and inspired several masterpieces, including "In the Valley of Cauteretz" and In Memoriam A.H.H., a long poem detailing the 'Way of the Soul’. Tennyson and his family were allowed to stay in the rectory for some time, but later moved to High Beach, Essex in 1837. An unwise investment in an ecclesiastical wood-carving enterprise soon led to the loss of much of the family fortune. Tennyson then moved to London, and lived for a time at Chapel House, Twickenham. Third publication n 1842, while living modestly in London, Tennyson published two volumes of Poems, of which the first included works already published and the second was made up almost entirely of new poems. They met with immediate success. Poems from this collection, such as Locksley Hall, "Tithonus", and "Ulysses" have met enduring fame. The Princess: A Medley, a satire on women's education, which came out in 1847, was also popular for its lyrics. W. S. Gilbert later adapted and parodied the piece twice: in The Princess (1870) and in Princess Ida (1884). It was in 1850 that Tennyson reached the pinnacle of his career, finally publishing his masterpiece, In Memoriam A.H.H., dedicated to Hallam. Later the same year he was appointed Poet Laureate, succeeding William Wordsworth. In the same year (on 13 June), Tennyson married Emily Sellwood, whom he had known since childhood, in the village of Shiplake. They had two sons, Hallam Tennyson (b. 11 August 1852) – named after his friend – and Lionel (b. 16 March 1854). Poet Laureate After Wordsworth's death in 1850, and Samuel Rogers' refusal, Tennyson was appointed to the position of Poet Laureate, which he held until his own death in 1892, by far the longest tenure of any laureate before or since. He fulfilled the requirements of this position by turning out appropriate but often uninspired verse, such as a poem of greeting to Alexandra of Denmark when she arrived in Britain to marry the future King Edward VII. In 1855, Tennyson produced one of his best known works, "The Charge of the Light Brigade", a dramatic tribute to the British cavalrymen involved in an ill-advised charge on 25 October 1854, during the Crimean War. Other esteemed works written in the post of Poet Laureate include Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington and Ode Sung at the Opening of the International Exhibition. Farringford – Lord Tennyson's residence on the Isle of Wight Queen Victoria was an ardent admirer of Tennyson's work, and in 1884 created him Baron Tennyson, of Aldworth in the County of Sussex and of Freshwater in the Isle of Wight. Tennyson initially declined a baronetcy in 1865 and 1868 (when tendered by Disraeli), finally accepting a peerage in 1883 at Gladstone's earnest solicitation. He took his seat in the House of Lords on 11 March 1884. Tennyson also wrote a substantial quantity of non-official political verse, from the bellicose "Form, Riflemen, Form", on the French crisis of 1859, to "Steersman, be not precipitate in thine act/of steering", deploring Gladstone's Home Rule Bill. Statue of Lord Tennyson in the chapel of Trinity College, Cambridge. Virginia Woolf wrote a play called Freshwater, showing Tennyson as host to his friends Julia Margaret Cameron and G.F.Watts. Tennyson was the first to be raised to a British Peerage for his writing. A passionate man with some peculiarities of nature, he was never particularly comfortable as a peer, and it is widely held that he took the peerage in order to secure a future for his son Hallam. Thomas Edison made sound recordings of Tennyson reading his own poetry, late in his life. They include recordings of The Charge of the Light Brigade, and excerpts from "The splendour falls" (from The Princess), "Come into the garden" (from Maud), "Ask me no more", "Ode on the death of the Duke of Wellington", "Charge of the Heavy Brigade", and "Lancelot and Elaine"; the sound quality is as poor as wax cylinder recordings usually are. Towards the end of his life Tennyson revealed that his "religious beliefs also defied convention, leaning towards agnosticism and pandeism":[9] Famously, he wrote in In Memoriam: "There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds." [The context directly contradicts the apparent meaning of this quote.] In Maud, 1855, he wrote: "The churches have killed their Christ." In "Locksley Hall Sixty Years After," Tennyson wrote: "Christian love among the churches look'd the twin of heathen hate." In his play, Becket, he wrote: "We are self-uncertain creatures, and we may, Yea, even when we know not, mix our spites and private hates with our defence of Heaven." Tennyson recorded in his Diary (p. 127): "I believe in Pantheism of a sort." His son's biography confirms that Tennyson was not an orthodox Christian, noting that Tennyson praised Giordano Bruno and Spinoza on his deathbed, saying of Bruno, "His view of God is in some ways mine," in 1892. Tennyson continued writing into his eighties. He died on 6 October 1892 at Aldworth, aged 83. He was buried at Westminster Abbey. A memorial was erected in All Saints' Church, Freshwater. His last words were; "Oh that press will have me now!”. He was succeeded as 2nd Baron Tennyson by his son, Hallam, who produced an authorised biography of his father in 1897, and was later the second Governor-General of Australia. The art of Tennyson's poetry ennyson used a wide range of subject matter, ranging from medieval legends to classical myths and from domestic situations to observations of nature, as source material for his poetry. The influence of John Keats and other Romantic poets published before and during his childhood is evident from the richness of his imagery and descriptive writing. He also handled rhythm masterfully. The insistent beat of Break, Break, Break emphasises the relentless sadness of the subject matter. Tennyson's use of the musical qualities of words to emphasise his rhythms and meanings is sensitive. The language of "I come from haunts of coot and hern" lilts and ripples like the brook in the poem and the last two lines of "Come down O maid from yonder mountain height" illustrate his telling combination of onomatopoeia, alliteration and assonance: The moan of doves in immemorial elms And murmuring of innumerable bees. Tennyson was a craftsman who polished and revised his manuscripts extensively. Few poets have used such a variety of styles with such an exact understanding of metre; like many Victorian poets, he experimented in adapting the quantitative metres of Greek and Latin poetry to English. He reflects the Victorian period of his maturity in his feeling for order and his tendency towards moralising and self-indulgent melancholy. He also reflects a concern common among Victorian writers in being troubled by the conflict between religious faith and expanding scientific knowledge. Like many writers who write a great deal over a long time, he can be pompous or banal, but his personality rings throughout all his works – work that reflects a grand and special variability in its quality. Tennyson possessed the strongest poetic power; he put great length into many works, most famous of which are Maud and Idylls of the King, the latter one of literature's treatments of the legend of King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table. Homoerotic imagery The poem In Memoriam about a man’s love for another man includes sexual imagery; for example, the poet compares his sorrow to the sorrow of a loving widower who misses his late wife in bed. Tears of the widower, when he sees A late-lost form that sleep reveals, And moves his doubtful arms, and feels Her place is empty, fall like these; This is not a unique example and material that can be interpreted as homoerotic is widespread in Tennyson’s work. There has been speculation that Tennyson may have experienced homosexual feelings for his friend, though there is no question that he was strongly attracted to women. If Tennyson had bisexual feelings there is no firm evidence that he acted on them. Partial list of works From Poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830): The Dying Swan The Kraken Mariana Lady Clara Vere de Vere (1832) From Poems (1833): The Lotos-Eaters The Lady of Shalott (1832, 1842) – three versions painted by J.W. Waterhouse (1888, 1894 and 1916). Also put to music by Loreena McKennitt on her album The Visit (1991). The Palace of Art St. Simeon Stylites (1833) From Poems (1842): Locksley Hall Tithonus Vision of Sin The Two Voices (1834) "Ulysses" (1833) From The Princess; A Medley (1847) "The Princess” Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal – it later appeared as a song in the film Vanity Fair, with musical arrangement by Mychael Danna "Tears, Idle Tears” In Memoriam A.H.H. (1849) Ring Out, Wild Bells (1850) The Eagle (1851) The Sister's Shame[15] From Maud; A Monodrama (1855/1856) Maud The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854) – an early recording exists of Tennyson reading this. From Enoch Arden and Other Poems (1862/1864) Enoch Arden The Brook – contains the line "For men may come and men may go, But I go on for ever" which inspired the naming of a men's club in New York City. Flower in the crannied wall (1869) The Window – Song cycle with Arthur Sullivan. (1871) Harold (1876) – began a revival of interest in King Harold Idylls of the King (composed 1833–1874) Locksley Hall Sixty Years After (1886) Crossing the Bar (1889) The Foresters – a play with incidental music by Arthur Sullivan (1891) Kapiolani (published after his death by Hallam Tennyson) References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred,_Lord_Tennyson

Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale (August 8, 1884 – January 29, 1933) was an American lyric poet. She was born Sarah Trevor Teasdale in St. Louis, Missouri, and used the name Sara Teasdale Filsinger after her marriage in 1914. Teasdale was born on August 8, 1884. She had such poor health for so much of her childhood, home schooled until age 9, that it was only at age 10 that she was well enough to begin school. She started at Mary Institute in 1898, but switched to Hosmer Hall in 1899, graduating in 1903. Teasdale's first poem was published in Reedy's Mirror, a local newspaper, in 1907. Her first collection of poems, Sonnets to Duse and Other Poems, was published that same year. Teasdale's second collection, Helen of Troy and Other Poems, was published in 1911. It was well received by critics, who praised its lyrical mastery and romantic subject matter. From 1911 to 1914 Teasdale was courted by several men, including the poet Vachel Lindsay, who was truly in love with her but did not feel that he could provide enough money or stability to keep her satisfied. She chose to marry Ernst Filsinger, a longtime admirer of her poetry, on December 19, 1914. Teasdale's third poetry collection, Rivers to the Sea, was published in 1915. It was and is a bestseller, being reprinted several times. In 1916 she and Filsinger moved to New York City, where they lived in an Upper West Side apartment on Central Park West. In 1918 she won a Pulitzer Prize for her 1917 poetry collection Love Songs. It was "made possible by a special grant from The Poetry Society"; however, the sponsoring organization now lists it as the earliest Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (inaugurated 1922). Filsinger's constant business travel caused Teasdale much loneliness. In 1929, she moved interstate for three months, thereby satisfying the criteria to gain a divorce. She did not wish to inform Filsinger, only doing so at her lawyers' insistence as the divorce was going through. Filsinger was shocked. After the divorce she moved only two blocks from her old home on Central Park West. She rekindled her friendship with Vachel Lindsay, who was now married with children. In 1933, she died by suicide, overdosing on sleeping pills. Lindsay had died by suicide two years earlier. She is interred in Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis. A common urban legend surrounds Teasdale's suicide. The poem "I Shall Not Care" was speculated to be her suicide note because of its depressing undertone. The legend claims that her poem "I Shall Not Care" (which features themes of abandonment, bitterness, and contemplation of death) was penned as a suicide note to a former lover. However, the poem was actually first published in her 1915 collection Rivers to the Sea, a full 18 years before her suicide: I Shall Not Care WHEN I am dead and over me bright April Shakes out her rain-drenched hair, Tho' you should lean above me broken-hearted, I shall not care. I shall have peace, as leafy trees are peaceful When rain bends down the bough, And I shall be more silent and cold-hearted Than you are now. References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Teasdale

Mark Twain

Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835– April 21, 1910), better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. Among his novels are The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “The Great American Novel”. Twain was raised in Hannibal, Missouri, which later provided the setting for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He served an apprenticeship with a printer and then worked as a typesetter, contributing articles to the newspaper of his older brother Orion Clemens. He later became a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River before heading west to join Orion in Nevada. He referred humorously to his lack of success at mining, turning to journalism for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise. His humorous story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”, was published in 1865, based on a story that he heard at Angels Hotel in Angels Camp, California where he had spent some time as a miner. The short story brought international attention and was even translated into French. His wit and satire, in prose and in speech, earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty. Twain earned a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, but he invested in ventures that lost most of it—notably the Paige Compositor, a mechanical typesetter that failed because of its complexity and imprecision. He filed for bankruptcy in the wake of these financial setbacks, but he eventually overcame his financial troubles with the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers. He chose to pay all his pre-bankruptcy creditors in full, even after he had no legal responsibility to do so. Twain was born shortly after an appearance of Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it” as well; he died the day after the comet returned. He was lauded as the “greatest humorist this country has produced”, and William Faulkner called him “the father of American literature”. Early life Mark Twain was born Samuel Langhorne Clemens on November 30, 1835 in Florida, Missouri, the sixth of seven children born to Jane (née Lampton; 1803–1890), a native of Kentucky, and John Marshall Clemens (1798–1847), a native of Virginia. His parents met when his father moved to Missouri, and they were married in 1823. Twain was of Cornish, English, and Scots-Irish descent. Only three of his siblings survived childhood: Orion (1825–1897), Henry (1838–1858), and Pamela (1827–1904). His sister Margaret (1830–1839) died when Twain was three, and his brother Benjamin (1832–1842) died three years later. His brother Pleasant Hannibal (1828) died at three weeks of age. When he was four, Twain’s family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, a port town on the Mississippi River that inspired the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Slavery was legal in Missouri at the time, and it became a theme in these writings. His father was an attorney and judge, who died of pneumonia in 1847, when Twain was 11. The next year, Twain left school after the fifth grade to become a printer’s apprentice. In 1851 he began working as a typesetter, contributing articles and humorous sketches to the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper that Orion owned. When he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York City, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, joining the newly formed International Typographical Union, the printers trade union. He educated himself in public libraries in the evenings, finding wider information than at a conventional school. Twain describes his boyhood in Life on the Mississippi, stating that “there was but one permanent ambition” among his comrades: to be a steamboatman. Pilot was the grandest position of all. The pilot, even in those days of trivial wages, had a princely salary– from a hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars a month, and no board to pay. As Twain describes it, the pilot’s prestige exceeded that of the captain. The pilot had to: …get up a warm personal acquaintanceship with every old snag and one-limbed cottonwood and every obscure wood pile that ornaments the banks of this river for twelve hundred miles; and more than that, must… actually know where these things are in the dark Steamboat pilot Horace E. Bixby took Twain on as a cub pilot to teach him the river between New Orleans and St. Louis for $500, payable out of Twain’s first wages after graduating. Twain studied the Mississippi, learning its landmarks, how to navigate its currents effectively, and how to read the river and its constantly shifting channels, reefs, submerged snags, and rocks that would “tear the life out of the strongest vessel that ever floated”. It was more than two years before he received his pilot’s license. Piloting also gave him his pen name from “mark twain”, the leadsman’s cry for a measured river depth of two fathoms (12 feet), which was safe water for a steamboat. While training, Samuel convinced his younger brother Henry to work with him. Henry was killed on June 21, 1858 when their steamboat Pennsylvania exploded. Twain claimed to have foreseen this death in a dream a month earlier, which inspired his interest in parapsychology; he was an early member of the Society for Psychical Research. Twain was guilt-stricken and held himself responsible for the rest of his life. He continued to work on the river and was a river pilot until the Civil War broke out in 1861, when traffic was curtailed along the Mississippi River. At the start of hostilities, he enlisted briefly in a local Confederate unit. He later wrote the sketch “The Private History of a Campaign That Failed”, describing how he and his friends had been Confederate volunteers for two weeks before disbanding. He then left for Nevada to work for Orion, who was Secretary of the Nevada Territory. Twain describes the episode in his book Roughing It. Travels Orion became secretary to Nevada Territory governor James W. Nye in 1861, and Twain joined him when he moved west. The brothers traveled more than two weeks on a stagecoach across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, visiting the Mormon community in Salt Lake City. Twain’s journey ended in the silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada where he became a miner on the Comstock Lode. He failed as a miner and went to work at the Virginia City newspaper Territorial Enterprise, working under a friend, the writer Dan DeQuille. He first used his pen name here on February 3, 1863, when he wrote a humorous travel account entitled “Letter From Carson– re: Joe Goodman; party at Gov. Johnson’s; music” and signed it “Mark Twain”. His experiences in the American West inspired Roughing It, written during 1870–71 and published in 1872. His experiences in Angels Camp (in Calaveras County, California) provided material for “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1865). Twain moved to San Francisco in 1864, still as a journalist, and met writers such as Bret Harte and Artemus Ward. He may have been romantically involved with the poet Ina Coolbrith. His first success as a writer came when his humorous tall tale “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was published on November 18, 1865 in the New York weekly The Saturday Press, bringing him national attention. A year later, he traveled to the Sandwich Islands (present day Hawaii) as a reporter for the Sacramento Union. His letters to the Union were popular and became the basis for his first lectures. In 1867, a local newspaper funded his trip to the Mediterranean aboard the Quaker City, including a tour of Europe and the Middle East. He wrote a collection of travel letters which were later compiled as The Innocents Abroad (1869). It was on this trip that he met fellow passenger Charles Langdon, who showed him a picture of his sister Olivia. Twain later claimed to have fallen in love at first sight. Upon returning to the United States, Twain was offered honorary membership in Yale University’s secret society Scroll and Key in 1868. Its devotion to “fellowship, moral and literary self-improvement, and charity” suited him well. Marriage and children Twain and Olivia Langdon corresponded throughout 1868. She rejected his first marriage proposal, but they were married in Elmira, New York in February 1870, where he courted her and managed to overcome her father’s initial reluctance. She came from a “wealthy but liberal family”; through her, he met abolitionists, “socialists, principled atheists and activists for women’s rights and social equality”, including Harriet Beecher Stowe (his next-door neighbor in Hartford, Connecticut), Frederick Douglass, and writer and utopian socialist William Dean Howells, who became a long-time friend. The couple lived in Buffalo, New York, from 1869 to 1871. He owned a stake in the Buffalo Express newspaper and worked as an editor and writer. While they were living in Buffalo, their son Langdon died of diphtheria at the age of 19 months. They had three daughters: Susy (1872–1896), Clara (1874–1962), and Jean (1880–1909). Twain moved his family to Hartford, Connecticut, where he arranged the building of a home starting in 1873. In the 1870s and 1880s, the family summered at Quarry Farm in Elmira, the home of Olivia’s sister, Susan Crane. In 1874, Susan had a study built apart from the main house so that Twain would have a quiet place in which to write. Also, he smoked cigars constantly, and Susan did not want him to do so in her house. Twain wrote many of his classic novels during his 17 years in Hartford (1874–1891) and over 20 summers at Quarry Farm. They include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1881), Life on the Mississippi (1883), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889). The couple’s marriage lasted 34 years until Olivia’s death in 1904. All of the Clemens family are buried in Elmira’s Woodlawn Cemetery. Love of science and technology Twain was fascinated with science and scientific inquiry. He developed a close and lasting friendship with Nikola Tesla, and the two spent much time together in Tesla’s laboratory. Twain patented three inventions, including an “Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments” (to replace suspenders) and a history trivia game. Most commercially successful was a self-pasting scrapbook; a dried adhesive on the pages needed only to be moistened before use. Over 25,000 were sold. Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) features a time traveler from the contemporary U.S., using his knowledge of science to introduce modern technology to Arthurian England. This type of storyline became a common feature of the science fiction subgenre alternate history. In 1909, Thomas Edison visited Twain at his home in Redding, Connecticut and filmed him. Part of the footage was used in The Prince and the Pauper (1909), a two-reel short film. It is said to be the only known existing film footage of Twain. Financial troubles Twain made a substantial amount of money through his writing, but he lost a great deal through investments. He invested mostly in new inventions and technology, particularly in the Paige typesetting machine. It was a beautifully engineered mechanical marvel that amazed viewers when it worked, but it was prone to breakdowns. Twain spent $300,000 (equal to $8,000,000 in inflation-adjusted terms ) on it between 1880 and 1894, but before it could be perfected it was rendered obsolete by the Linotype. He lost the bulk of his book profits, as well as a substantial portion of his wife’s inheritance. Twain also lost money through his publishing house of Charles L. Webster and Company, which enjoyed initial success selling the memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant but failed soon afterward, losing money on a biography of Pope Leo XIII. Fewer than 200 copies were sold. Twain and his family closed down their expensive Hartford home in response to the dwindling income and moved to Europe in June 1891. William M. Laffan of The New York Sun and the McClure Newspaper Syndicate offered him the publication of a series of six European letters. Twain, Olivia, and their daughter Susy were all faced with health problems, and they believed that it would be of benefit to visit European baths. The family stayed mainly in France, Germany, and Italy until May 1895, with longer spells at Berlin (winter 1891/92), Florence (fall and winter 1892/93), and Paris (winters and springs 1893/94 and 1894/95). During that period, Twain returned four times to New York due to his enduring business troubles. He took “a cheap room” in September 1893 at $1.50 per day at The Players Club, which he had to keep until March 1894; meanwhile, he became “the Belle of New York,” in the words of biographer Albert Bigelow Paine. Twain’s writings and lectures enabled him to recover financially, combined with the help of a new friend. In fall 1893, he began a friendship with financier Henry Huttleston Rogers, a principal of Standard Oil, that lasted the remainder of his life. Rogers first made him file for bankruptcy in April 1894, then had him transfer the copyrights on his written works to his wife to prevent creditors from gaining possession of them. Finally, Rogers took absolute charge of Twain’s money until all his creditors were paid. Twain accepted an offer from Robert Sparrow Smythe and embarked on a year-long, around the world lecture tour in July 1895 to pay off his creditors in full, although he was no longer under any legal obligation to do so. It was a long, arduous journey and he was sick much of the time, mostly from a cold and a carbuncle. The first part of the itinerary took him across northern America to British Columbia, Canada, until the second half of August. For the second part, he sailed across the Pacific Ocean. His scheduled lecture in Honolulu, Hawaii had to be cancelled due to a cholera epidemic. Twain went on to Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, India, Mauritius, and South Africa. His three months in India became the centerpiece of his 712-page book Following the Equator. In the second half of July 1896, he sailed back to England, completing his circumnavigation of the world begun 14 months before. Twain and his family spent four more years in Europe, mainly in England and Austria (October 1897 to May 1899), with longer spells in London and Vienna. Clara had wished to study the piano under Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna. Unfortunately, Jean’s health did not benefit from consulting with specialists in Vienna, the “City of Doctors”. The family moved to London in spring 1899, following a lead by Poultney Bigelow who had a good experience being treated by Dr. Jonas Henrik Kellgren, a Swedish osteopathic practitioner in Belgravia. They were persuaded to spend the summer at Kellgren’s sanatorium by the lake in the Swedish village of Sanna. Coming back in fall, they continued the treatment in London, until Twain was convinced by lengthy inquiries in America that similar osteopathic expertise was available there. In mid-1900, he was the guest of newspaper proprietor Hugh Gilzean-Reid at Dollis Hill House, located on the north side of London. Twain wrote that he had “never seen any place that was so satisfactorily situated, with its noble trees and stretch of country, and everything that went to make life delightful, and all within a biscuit’s throw of the metropolis of the world.” He then returned to America in October 1900, having earned enough to pay off his debts. In winter 1900/01, he became his country’s most prominent opponent of imperialism, raising the issue in his speeches, interviews, and writings. In January 1901, he began serving as vice-president of the Anti-Imperialist League of New York. Speaking engagements Twain was in great demand as a featured speaker, performing solo humorous talks similar to modern stand-up comedy. He gave paid talks to many men’s clubs, including the Authors’ Club, Beefsteak Club, Vagabonds, White Friars, and Monday Evening Club of Hartford. In the late 1890s, he spoke to the Savage Club in London and was elected an honorary member. He was told that only three men had been so honored, including the Prince of Wales, and he replied: “Well, it must make the Prince feel mighty fine.” He visited Melbourne and Sydney in 1895 as part of a world lecture tour. In 1897, he spoke to the Concordia Press Club in Vienna as a special guest, following the diplomat Charlemagne Tower, Jr. He delivered the speech “Die Schrecken der deutschen Sprache” ("The Horrors of the German Language")—in German—to the great amusement of the audience. In 1901, he was invited to speak at Princeton University’s Cliosophic Literary Society, where he was made an honorary member. Canadian visits In 1881, Twain was honored at a banquet in Montreal, Canada where he made reference to securing a copyright. In 1883, he paid a brief visit to Ottawa, and he visited Toronto twice in 1884 and 1885 on a reading tour with George Washington Cable, known as the “Twins of Genius” tour. The reason for the Toronto visits was to secure Canadian and British copyrights for his upcoming book Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to which he had alluded in his Montreal visit. The reason for the Ottawa visit had been to secure Canadian and British copyrights for Life on the Mississippi. Publishers in Toronto had printed unauthorized editions of his books at the time, before an international copyright agreement was established in 1891. These were sold in the United States as well as in Canada, depriving him of royalties. He estimated that Belford Brothers’ edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer alone had cost him ten thousand dollars. He had unsuccessfully attempted to secure the rights for The Prince and the Pauper in 1881, in conjunction with his Montreal trip. Eventually, he received legal advice to register a copyright in Canada (for both Canada and Britain) prior to publishing in the United States, which would restrain the Canadian publishers from printing a version when the American edition was published. There was a requirement that a copyright be registered to a Canadian resident; he addressed this by his short visits to the country. Later life and death Twain lived in his later years at 14 West 10th Street in Manhattan. Twain passed through a period of deep depression which began in 1896 when his daughter Susy died of meningitis. Olivia’s death in 1904 and Jean’s on December 24, 1909 deepened his gloom. On May 20, 1909, his close friend Henry Rogers died suddenly. In 1906, Twain began his autobiography in the North American Review. In April, he heard that his friend Ina Coolbrith had lost nearly all that she owned in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and he volunteered a few autographed portrait photographs to be sold for her benefit. To further aid Coolbrith, George Wharton James visited Twain in New York and arranged for a new portrait session. He was resistant initially, but he eventually admitted that four of the resulting images were the finest ones ever taken of him. Twain formed a club in 1906 for girls whom he viewed as surrogate granddaughters called the Angel Fish and Aquarium Club. The dozen or so members ranged in age from 10 to 16. He exchanged letters with his “Angel Fish” girls and invited them to concerts and the theatre and to play games. Twain wrote in 1908 that the club was his “life’s chief delight”. In 1907, he met Dorothy Quick (aged 11) on a transatlantic crossing, beginning “a friendship that was to last until the very day of his death”. Oxford University awarded Twain an honorary doctorate in letters in 1907. Twain was born two weeks after Halley’s Comet’s closest approach in 1835; he said in 1909: I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s Comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: “Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together”. Twain’s prediction was accurate; he died of a heart attack on April 21, 1910 in Redding, Connecticut, one day after the comet’s closest approach to Earth. Upon hearing of Twain’s death, President William Howard Taft said: Mark Twain gave pleasure—real intellectual enjoyment—to millions, and his works will continue to give such pleasure to millions yet to come … His humor was American, but he was nearly as much appreciated by Englishmen and people of other countries as by his own countrymen. He has made an enduring part of American literature. Twain’s funeral was at the “Old Brick” Presbyterian Church in New York. He is buried in his wife’s family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Elmira, New York. The Langdon family plot is marked by a 12-foot monument (two fathoms, or “mark twain”) placed there by his surviving daughter Clara. There is also a smaller headstone. He expressed a preference for cremation (for example, in Life on the Mississippi), but he acknowledged that his surviving family would have the last word. Officials in Connecticut and New York estimated the value of Twain’s estate at $471,000 ($12,000,000 today). Writing Overview Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but he became a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies, and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, he combined rich humor, sturdy narrative, and social criticism in Huckleberry Finn. He was a master of rendering colloquial speech and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of his works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been repeatedly restricted in American high schools, not least for its frequent use of the word “nigger”, which was in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set. A complete bibliography of Twain’s works is nearly impossible to compile because of the vast number of pieces he wrote (often in obscure newspapers) and his use of several different pen names. Additionally, a large portion of his speeches and lectures have been lost or were not recorded; thus, the compilation of Twain’s works is an ongoing process. Researchers rediscovered published material as recently as 1995 and 2015. Early journalism and travelogues Twain was writing for the Virginia City newspaper the Territorial Enterprise in 1863 when he met lawyer Tom Fitch, editor of the competing newspaper Virginia Daily Union and known as the “silver-tongued orator of the Pacific”. He credited Fitch with giving him his “first really profitable lesson” in writing. “When I first began to lecture, and in my earlier writings,” Twain later commented, “my sole idea was to make comic capital out of everything I saw and heard.” In 1866, he presented his lecture on the Sandwich Islands to a crowd in Washoe City, Nevada. Afterwards, Fitch told him: Clemens, your lecture was magnificent. It was eloquent, moving, sincere. Never in my entire life have I listened to such a magnificent piece of descriptive narration. But you committed one unpardonable sin– the unpardonable sin. It is a sin you must never commit again. You closed a most eloquent description, by which you had keyed your audience up to a pitch of the intensest interest, with a piece of atrocious anti-climax which nullified all the really fine effect you had produced. It was in these days that Twain became a writer of the Sagebrush School; he was known later as the most notable within the genre. His first important work was “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. After a burst of popularity, the Sacramento Union commissioned him to write letters about his travel experiences. The first journey that he took for this job was to ride the steamer Ajax on its maiden voyage to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). All the while, he was writing letters to the newspaper that were meant for publishing, chronicling his experiences with humor. These letters proved to be the genesis to his work with the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, which designated him a traveling correspondent for a trip from San Francisco to New York City via the Panama isthmus. On June 8, 1867, he set sail on the pleasure cruiser Quaker City for five months, and this trip resulted in The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims’ Progress. In 1872, he published his second piece of travel literature, Roughing It, as an account of his journey from Missouri to Nevada, his subsequent life in the American West, and his visit to Hawaii. The book lampoons American and Western society in the same way that Innocents critiqued the various countries of Europe and the Middle East. His next work was The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, his first attempt at writing a novel. The book is also notable because it is his only collaboration, written with his neighbor Charles Dudley Warner. Twain’s next work drew on his experiences on the Mississippi River. Old Times on the Mississippi was a series of sketches published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1875 featuring his disillusionment with Romanticism. Old Times eventually became the starting point for Life on the Mississippi. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn Twain’s next major publication was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which draws on his youth in Hannibal. Tom Sawyer was modeled on Twain as a child, with traces of schoolmates John Briggs and Will Bowen. The book also introduces Huckleberry Finn in a supporting role, based on Twain’s boyhood friend Tom Blankenship. The Prince and the Pauper was not as well received, despite a storyline that is common in film and literature today. The book tells the story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical, acting as a social commentary as the prince and pauper switch places. Twain had started Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which he consistently had problems completing) and had completed his travel book A Tramp Abroad, which describes his travels through central and southern Europe. Twain’s next major published work was the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which confirmed him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. Four hundred manuscript pages were written in mid-1876, right after the publication of Tom Sawyer. The last fifth of Huckleberry Finn is subject to much controversy. Some say that Twain experienced a “failure of nerve,” as critic Leo Marx puts it. Ernest Hemingway once said of Huckleberry Finn: If you read it, you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. Hemingway also wrote in the same essay: All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, which is said to have heavily influenced the novel. The travel work recounts Twain’s memories and new experiences after a 22-year absence from the Mississippi River. In it, he also explains that “Mark Twain” was the call made when the boat was in safe water, indicating a depth of two fathoms (12 feet or 3.7 metres). Later writing Twain produced President Ulysses S. Grant’s Memoirs through his fledgling publishing house, Charles L. Webster & Company, which he co-owned with Charles L. Webster, his nephew by marriage. At this time he also wrote “The Private History of a Campaign That Failed” for The Century Magazine. This piece detailed his two-week stint in a Confederate militia during the Civil War. He next focused on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, written with the same historical fiction style as The Prince and the Pauper. A Connecticut Yankee showed the absurdities of political and social norms by setting them in the court of King Arthur. The book was started in December 1885, then shelved a few months later until the summer of 1887, and eventually finished in the spring of 1889. His next large-scale work was Pudd’nhead Wilson, which he wrote rapidly, as he was desperately trying to stave off bankruptcy. From November 12 to December 14, 1893, Twain wrote 60,000 words for the novel. Critics have pointed to this rushed completion as the cause of the novel’s rough organization and constant disruption of the plot. This novel also contains the tale of two boys born on the same day who switch positions in life, like The Prince and the Pauper. It was first published serially in Century Magazine and, when it was finally published in book form, Pudd’nhead Wilson appeared as the main title; however, the “subtitles” make the entire title read: The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson and the Comedy of The Extraordinary Twins. Twain’s next venture was a work of straight fiction that he called Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc and dedicated to his wife. He had long said that this was the work that he was most proud of, despite the criticism that he received for it. The book had been a dream of his since childhood, and he claimed that he had found a manuscript detailing the life of Joan of Arc when he was an adolescent. This was another piece that he was convinced would save his publishing company. His financial adviser Henry Huttleston Rogers quashed that idea and got Twain out of that business altogether, but the book was published nonetheless. To pay the bills and keep his business projects afloat, Twain had begun to write articles and commentary furiously, with diminishing returns, but it was not enough. He filed for bankruptcy in 1894. During this time of dire financial straits, he published several literary reviews in newspapers to help make ends meet. He famously derided James Fenimore Cooper in his article detailing Cooper’s “Literary Offenses”. He became an extremely outspoken critic of other authors and other critics; he suggested that, before praising Cooper’s work, Thomas Lounsbury, Brander Matthews, and Wilkie Collins “ought to have read some of it”. George Eliot, Jane Austen, and Robert Louis Stevenson also fell under Twain’s attack during this time period, beginning around 1890 and continuing until his death. He outlines what he considers to be “quality writing” in several letters and essays, in addition to providing a source for the “tooth and claw” style of literary criticism. He places emphasis on concision, utility of word choice, and realism; he complains, for example, that Cooper’s Deerslayer purports to be realistic but has several shortcomings. Ironically, several of his own works were later criticized for lack of continuity (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) and organization (Pudd’nhead Wilson). Twain’s wife died in 1904 while the couple were staying at the Villa di Quarto in Florence. After some time had passed he published some works that his wife, his de facto editor and censor throughout her married life, had looked down upon. The Mysterious Stranger is perhaps the best known, depicting various visits of Satan to earth. This particular work was not published in Twain’s lifetime. His manuscripts included three versions, written between 1897 and 1905: the so-called Hannibal, Eseldorf, and Print Shop versions. The resulting confusion led to extensive publication of a jumbled version, and only recently have the original versions become available as Twain wrote them. Twain’s last work was his autobiography, which he dictated and thought would be most entertaining if he went off on whims and tangents in non-chronological order. Some archivists and compilers have rearranged the biography into a more conventional form, thereby eliminating some of Twain’s humor and the flow of the book. The first volume of the autobiography, over 736 pages, was published by the University of California in November 2010, 100 years after his death, as Twain wished. It soon became an unexpected best seller, making Twain one of a very few authors publishing new best-selling volumes in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Censorship Twain’s works have been subjected to censorship efforts. According to Stuart (2013), “Leading these banning campaigns, generally, were religious organizations or individuals in positions of influence– not so much working librarians, who had been instilled with that American ”library spirit" which honored intellectual freedom (within bounds of course)". In 1905, the Brooklyn Public Library banned both The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer from the children’s department because of their language. Views Twain’s views became more radical as he grew older. In a letter to friend and fellow writer William Dean Howells in 1887 he acknowledged that his views had changed and developed over his lifetime, referring to one of his favorite works: When I finished Carlyle’s French Revolution in 1871, I was a Girondin; every time I have read it since, I have read it differently– being influenced and changed, little by little, by life and environment... and now I lay the book down once more, and recognize that I am a Sansculotte! And not a pale, characterless Sansculotte, but a Marat. Anti-imperialist Before 1899, Twain was an ardent imperialist. In the late 1860s and early 1870s, he spoke out strongly in favor of American interests in the Hawaiian Islands. He said the war with Spain in 1898 was “the worthiest” war ever fought. In 1899, however, he reversed course. In the New York Herald, October 16, 1900, Twain describes his transformation and political awakening, in the context of the Philippine–American War, to anti-imperialism: I wanted the American eagle to go screaming into the Pacific... Why not spread its wings over the Philippines, I asked myself?... I said to myself, Here are a people who have suffered for three centuries. We can make them as free as ourselves, give them a government and country of their own, put a miniature of the American Constitution afloat in the Pacific, start a brand new republic to take its place among the free nations of the world. It seemed to me a great task to which we had addressed ourselves. But I have thought some more, since then, and I have read carefully the treaty of Paris [which ended the Spanish–American War], and I have seen that we do not intend to free, but to subjugate the people of the Philippines. We have gone there to conquer, not to redeem. It should, it seems to me, be our pleasure and duty to make those people free, and let them deal with their own domestic questions in their own way. And so I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. During the Boxer rebellion, Mark Twain said that “the Boxer is a patriot. He loves his country better than he does the countries of other people. I wish him success.” From 1901, soon after his return from Europe, until his death in 1910, Twain was vice-president of the American Anti-Imperialist League, which opposed the annexation of the Philippines by the United States and had “tens of thousands of members”. He wrote many political pamphlets for the organization. The Incident in the Philippines, posthumously published in 1924, was in response to the Moro Crater Massacre, in which six hundred Moros were killed. Many of his neglected and previously uncollected writings on anti-imperialism appeared for the first time in book form in 1992. Twain was critical of imperialism in other countries as well. In Following the Equator, Twain expresses “hatred and condemnation of imperialism of all stripes”. He was highly critical of European imperialists, notably Cecil Rhodes, who greatly expanded the British Empire, and Leopold II, King of the Belgians. King Leopold’s Soliloquy is a stinging political satire about his private colony, the Congo Free State. Reports of outrageous exploitation and grotesque abuses led to widespread international protest in the early 1900s, arguably the first large-scale human rights movement. In the soliloquy, the King argues that bringing Christianity to the country outweighs a little starvation. Leopold’s rubber gatherers were tortured, maimed and slaughtered until the movement forced Brussels to call a halt. During the Philippine–American War, Twain wrote a short pacifist story titled The War Prayer, which makes the point that humanism and Christianity’s preaching of love are incompatible with the conduct of war. It was submitted to Harper’s Bazaar for publication, but on March 22, 1905, the magazine rejected the story as “not quite suited to a woman’s magazine”. Eight days later, Twain wrote to his friend Daniel Carter Beard, to whom he had read the story, “I don’t think the prayer will be published in my time. None but the dead are permitted to tell the truth.” Because he had an exclusive contract with Harper & Brothers, Twain could not publish The War Prayer elsewhere; it remained unpublished until 1923. It was republished as campaigning material by Vietnam War protesters. Twain acknowledged that he had originally sympathized with the more moderate Girondins of the French Revolution and then shifted his sympathies to the more radical Sansculottes, indeed identifying himself as “a Marat”. Twain supported the revolutionaries in Russia against the reformists, arguing that the Tsar must be got rid of by violent means, because peaceful ones would not work. He summed up his views of revolutions in the following statement: I am said to be a revolutionist in my sympathies, by birth, by breeding and by principle. I am always on the side of the revolutionists, because there never was a revolution unless there were some oppressive and intolerable conditions against which to revolute. Civil rights Twain was an adamant supporter of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of slaves, even going so far as to say, “Lincoln’s Proclamation... not only set the black slaves free, but set the white man free also”. He argued that non-whites did not receive justice in the United States, once saying, “I have seen Chinamen abused and maltreated in all the mean, cowardly ways possible to the invention of a degraded nature... but I never saw a Chinaman righted in a court of justice for wrongs thus done to him”. He paid for at least one black person to attend Yale Law School and for another black person to attend a southern university to become a minister. Twain’s sympathetic views on race were not reflected in his early writings on American Indians. Of them, Twain wrote in 1870: His heart is a cesspool of falsehood, of treachery, and of low and devilish instincts. With him, gratitude is an unknown emotion; and when one does him a kindness, it is safest to keep the face toward him, lest the reward be an arrow in the back. To accept of a favor from him is to assume a debt which you can never repay to his satisfaction, though you bankrupt yourself trying. The scum of the earth! As counterpoint, Twain’s essay on “The Literary Offenses of Fenimore Cooper” offers a much kinder view of Indians. “No, other Indians would have noticed these things, but Cooper’s Indians never notice anything. Cooper thinks they are marvelous creatures for noticing, but he was almost always in error about his Indians. There was seldom a sane one among them.” In his later travelogue Following the Equator (1897), Twain observes that in colonized lands all over the world, “savages” have always been wronged by “whites” in the most merciless ways, such as “robbery, humiliation, and slow, slow murder, through poverty and the white man’s whiskey”; his conclusion is that “there are many humorous things in this world; among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages”. In an expression that captures his East Indian experiences, he wrote, “So far as I am able to judge nothing has been left undone, either by man or Nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile.” Twain was also a staunch supporter of women’s rights and an active campaigner for women’s suffrage. His “Votes for Women” speech, in which he pressed for the granting of voting rights to women, is considered one of the most famous in history. Helen Keller benefited from Twain’s support as she pursued her college education and publishing despite her disabilities and financial limitations. Labor Twain wrote glowingly about unions in the river boating industry in Life on the Mississippi, which was read in union halls decades later. He supported the labor movement, especially one of the most important unions, the Knights of Labor. In a speech to them, he said: Who are the oppressors? The few: the King, the capitalist, and a handful of other overseers and superintendents. Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat. Religion Twain was a Presbyterian. He was critical of organized religion and certain elements of Christianity through his later life. He wrote, for example, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so”, and “If Christ were here now there is one thing he would not be– a Christian”. With anti-Catholic sentiment rampant in 19th century America, Twain noted he was “educated to enmity toward everything that is Catholic”. As an adult, he engaged in religious discussions and attended services, his theology developing as he wrestled with the deaths of loved ones and with his own mortality. Twain generally avoided publishing his most controversial opinions on religion in his lifetime, and they are known from essays and stories that were published later. In the essay Three Statements of the Eighties in the 1880s, Twain stated that he believed in an almighty God, but not in any messages, revelations, holy scriptures such as the Bible, Providence, or retribution in the afterlife. He did state that “the goodness, the justice, and the mercy of God are manifested in His works”, but also that “the universe is governed by strict and immutable laws”, which determine “small matters”, such as who dies in a pestilence. At other times, he wrote or spoke in ways that contradicted a strict deist view, for example, plainly professing a belief in Providence. In some later writings in the 1890s, he was less optimistic about the goodness of God, observing that “if our Maker is all-powerful for good or evil, He is not in His right mind”. At other times, he conjectured sardonically that perhaps God had created the world with all its tortures for some purpose of His own, but was otherwise indifferent to humanity, which was too petty and insignificant to deserve His attention anyway. In 1901, Twain criticized the actions of the missionary Dr. William Scott Ament (1851–1909) because Ament and other missionaries had collected indemnities from Chinese subjects in the aftermath of the Boxer Uprising of 1900. Twain’s response to hearing of Ament’s methods was published in the North American Review in February 1901: To the Person Sitting in Darkness, and deals with examples of imperialism in China, South Africa, and with the U.S. occupation of the Philippines. A subsequent article, “To My Missionary Critics” published in The North American Review in April 1901, unapologetically continues his attack, but with the focus shifted from Ament to his missionary superiors, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. After his death, Twain’s family suppressed some of his work that was especially irreverent toward conventional religion, notably Letters from the Earth, which was not published until his daughter Clara reversed her position in 1962 in response to Soviet propaganda about the withholding. The anti-religious The Mysterious Stranger was published in 1916. Little Bessie, a story ridiculing Christianity, was first published in the 1972 collection Mark Twain’s Fables of Man. He raised money to build a Presbyterian Church in Nevada in 1864. Twain created a reverent portrayal of Joan of Arc, a subject over which he had obsessed for forty years, studied for a dozen years and spent two years writing about. In 1900 and again in 1908 he stated, “I like Joan of Arc best of all my books, it is the best”. Those who knew Twain well late in life recount that he dwelt on the subject of the afterlife, his daughter Clara saying: “Sometimes he believed death ended everything, but most of the time he felt sure of a life beyond.” Twain’s frankest views on religion appeared in his final work Autobiography of Mark Twain, the publication of which started in November 2010, 100 years after his death. In it, he said: There is one notable thing about our Christianity: bad, bloody, merciless, money-grabbing, and predatory as it is– in our country particularly and in all other Christian countries in a somewhat modified degree– it is still a hundred times better than the Christianity of the Bible, with its prodigious crime– the invention of Hell. Measured by our Christianity of to-day, bad as it is, hypocritical as it is, empty and hollow as it is, neither the Deity nor his Son is a Christian, nor qualified for that moderately high place. Ours is a terrible religion. The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilled. Twain was a Freemason. He belonged to Polar Star Lodge No. 79 A.F.&A.M., based in St. Louis. He was initiated an Entered Apprentice on May 22, 1861, passed to the degree of Fellow Craft on June 12, and raised to the degree of Master Mason on July 10. Twain visited Salt Lake City for two days and met there members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They also gave him a Book of Mormon. He later wrote in Roughing It about that book: The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of imaginary history, with the Old Testament for a model; followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New Testament. Vivisection Twain was opposed to the vivisection practices of his day. His objection was not on a scientific basis but rather an ethical one. He specifically cited the pain caused to the animal as his basis of his opposition. I am not interested to know whether Vivisection produces results that are profitable to the human race or doesn’t.... The pains which it inflicts upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity towards it, and it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking further. Pen names Twain used different pen names before deciding on “'Mark Twain”. He signed humorous and imaginative sketches as “Josh” until 1863. Additionally, he used the pen name “Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass” for a series of humorous letters. He maintained that his primary pen name came from his years working on Mississippi riverboats, where two fathoms, a depth indicating water safe for the passage of boat, was a measure on the sounding line. Twain is an archaic term for “two”, as in “The veil of the temple was rent in twain.” The riverboatman’s cry was “mark twain” or, more fully, “by the mark twain”, meaning "according to the mark [on the line], [the depth is] two [fathoms]", that is, "The water is 12 feet (3.7 m) deep and it is safe to pass.” Twain claimed that his famous pen name was not entirely his invention. In Life on the Mississippi, he wrote: Captain Isaiah Sellers was not of literary turn or capacity, but he used to jot down brief paragraphs of plain practical information about the river, and sign them “MARK TWAIN”, and give them to the New Orleans Picayune. They related to the stage and condition of the river, and were accurate and valuable;... At the time that the telegraph brought the news of his death, I was on the Pacific coast. I was a fresh new journalist, and needed a nom de guerre; so I confiscated the ancient mariner’s discarded one, and have done my best to make it remain what it was in his hands– a sign and symbol and warrant that whatever is found in its company may be gambled on as being the petrified truth; how I have succeeded, it would not be modest in me to say. Twain’s story about his pen name has been questioned by some with the suggestion that “mark twain” refers to a running bar tab that Twain would regularly incur while drinking at John Piper’s saloon in Virginia City, Nevada. Samuel Clemens himself responded to this suggestion by saying, "Mark Twain was the nom de plume of one Captain Isaiah Sellers, who used to write river news over it for the New Orleans Picayune. He died in 1869 and as he could no longer need that signature, I laid violent hands upon it without asking permission of the proprietor’s remains. That is the history of the nom de plume I bear.” In his autobiography, Twain writes further of Captain Sellers’ use of “Mark Twain”: I was a cub pilot on the Mississippi River then, and one day I wrote a rude and crude satire which was leveled at Captain Isaiah Sellers, the oldest steamboat pilot on the Mississippi River, and the most respected, esteemed, and revered. For many years he had occasionally written brief paragraphs concerning the river and the changes which it had undergone under his observation during fifty years, and had signed these paragraphs “Mark Twain” and published them in the St. Louis and New Orleans journals. In my satire I made rude game of his reminiscences. It was a shabby poor performance, but I didn’t know it, and the pilots didn’t know it. The pilots thought it was brilliant. They were jealous of Sellers, because when the gray-heads among them pleased their vanity by detailing in the hearing of the younger craftsmen marvels which they had seen in the long ago on the river, Sellers was always likely to step in at the psychological moment and snuff them out with wonders of his own which made their small marvels look pale and sick. However, I have told all about this in “Old Times on the Mississippi.” The pilots handed my extravagant satire to a river reporter, and it was published in the New Orleans True Delta. That poor old Captain Sellers was deeply wounded. He had never been held up to ridicule before; he was sensitive, and he never got over the hurt which I had wantonly and stupidly inflicted upon his dignity. I was proud of my performance for a while, and considered it quite wonderful, but I have changed my opinion of it long ago. Sellers never published another paragraph nor ever used his nom de guerre again. Legacy and depictions Trademark white suit While Twain is often depicted wearing a white suit, modern representations suggesting that he wore them throughout his life are unfounded. Evidence suggests that Twain began wearing white suits on the lecture circuit, after the death of his wife Olivia ("Livy") in 1904. However, there is also evidence showing him wearing a white suit before 1904. In 1882, he sent a photograph of himself in a white suit to 18-year-old Edward W. Bok, later publisher of the Ladies Home Journal, with a handwritten dated note on verso. It did eventually become his trademark, as illustrated in anecdotes about this eccentricity (such as the time he wore a white summer suit to a Congressional hearing during the winter). McMasters’ The Mark Twain Encyclopedia states that Twain did not wear a white suit in his last three years, except at one banquet speech. In his autobiography, Twain writes of his early experiments with wearing white out-of-season: Next after fine colors, I like plain white. One of my sorrows, when the summer ends, is that I must put off my cheery and comfortable white clothes and enter for the winter into the depressing captivity of the shapeless and degrading black ones. It is mid-October now, and the weather is growing cold up here in the New Hampshire hills, but it will not succeed in freezing me out of these white garments, for here the neighbors are few, and it is only of crowds that I am afraid. I made a brave experiment, the other night, to see how it would feel to shock a crowd with these unseasonable clothes, and also to see how long it might take the crowd to reconcile itself to them and stop looking astonished and outraged. On a stormy evening I made a talk before a full house, in the village, clothed like a ghost, and looking as conspicuous, all solitary and alone on that platform, as any ghost could have looked; and I found, to my gratification, that it took the house less than ten minutes to forget about the ghost and give its attention to the tidings I had brought. I am nearly seventy-one, and I recognize that my age has given me a good many privileges; valuable privileges; privileges which are not granted to younger persons. Little by little I hope to get together courage enough to wear white clothes all through the winter, in New York. It will be a great satisfaction to me to show off in this way; and perhaps the largest of all the satisfactions will be the knowledge that every scoffer, of my sex, will secretly envy me and wish he dared to follow my lead. Bibliography References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Twain

Celia Thaxter

Celia Laighton Thaxter (June 29, 1835 – August 25, 1894) was an American writer of poetry and stories. She was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Thaxter grew up in the Isles of Shoals, first on White Island, where her father, Thomas Laighton, was a lighthouse keeper, and then on Smuttynose and Appledore Islands. When she was sixteen, she married Levi Thaxter and moved to the mainland, residing first in Watertown, Massachusetts at a property his father owned. In 1854, they accepted an offer to use a house in Newburyport. The couple then acquired their own home, today called the Celia Thaxter House, built in 1856 near the Charles River at Newtonville. She had a son, Roland, born August 28, 1858, who would later become a prominent plant pathologist. Her first published poem, Landlocked, was written during this time on the mainland. Her life with Levi was not harmonious and she missed her islands, and so after 10 years away, she moved back to Appledore Island. Celia became the hostess of her father's hotel, the Appledore House, and welcomed many New England literary and artistic notables to the island and to her parlor, including writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Whittier, Sarah Orne Jewett, and the artists William Morris Hunt and Childe Hassam, who painted several pictures of her. She was present at the time of the infamous murders on Smuttynose Island, about which she wrote the essay, A Memorable Murder. In 2008, The Library of America selected "A Memorable Murder" for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime. William Morris Hunt, a close family friend, spent the last months of his life on Appledore Island, trying to recover from a crippling depression. He drowned in late summer 1879, three days after finishing his last sketch. Celia Thaxter discovered the painter's body, an apparent suicide. That same year, the Thaxters bought 186 acres (75 hectares) along Seapoint Beach on Cutts Island, Kittery Point, where they built a grand Shingle Style "cottage" called Champernowne Farm. In 1880, they auctioned the Newtonville house, and by 1881, moved to the new home. It stayed in the family until the 1989 death of her granddaughter and biographer, Rosamond Thaxter. Her poems first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly and she became one of America's favorite authors in the late 19th century. Among her best-known poems are The Burgomaster Gull, Landlocked, Milking, The Great White Owl, The Kingfisher, and especially The Sandpiper.[2] Celia Thaxter died suddenly while on Appledore Island. She was buried not far from her cottage, which unfortunately burned in the 1914 fire that destroyed The Appledore House hotel. References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celia_Thaxter

Dylan Thomas

Dylan Marlais Thomas (27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953) was a Welsh poet and writer who wrote exclusively in English. In addition to poetry, he wrote short stories and scripts for film and radio, which he often performed himself. His public readings, particularly in America, won him great acclaim; his sonorous voice with a subtle Welsh lilt became almost as famous as his works. His best-known works include the "play for voices" Under Milk Wood and the celebrated villanelle for his dying father, "Do not go gentle into that good night". Appreciative critics have also noted the craftsmanship and compression of poems such as "In my Craft or Sullen Art", and the rhapsodic lyricism in "And death shall have no dominion" and "Fern Hill”. Early life Dylan Thomas was born in the Uplands area of Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales, on 27 October 1914 just a few months after the Thomas family had bought the house. Uplands was, and still is, one of the more affluent areas of the city. His father, David John Thomas (1876–1952), had attained a first-class honours degree in English at University College, Aberystwyth, and was dissatisfied with his position at the local grammar school as an English master who taught English literature. His mother, Florence Hannah Thomas (née Williams) (1882–1958), was a seamstress born in Swansea. Nancy, Thomas's sister, (Nancy Marles 1906–1953) was nine years older than he. Their father brought up both children to speak only English, even though he and his wife were both bilingual in English and Welsh. David was even known to give Welsh lessons at home. Dylan is pronounced ˈdəlan in Welsh, and in the early part of his career some announcers introduced him using this pronunciation. However, Thomas himself favoured the anglicised pronunciation /ˈdɪlən/. A review of a biography by Andrew Lycett (2004) notes: "Florence, the boy’s mother, had her doubts about the odd name: the correct Welsh pronunciation, which the family used, is “Dullan,” and she worried that other children would tease him by calling him “dull one.” Later, when broadcasting on the Welsh service of the BBC, Dylan Thomas had to instruct the announcers to say "'Dillan,' the way he himself pronounced it". His middle name, Marlais, was given to him in honour of his great-uncle, Unitarian minister William Thomas, whose bardic name was Gwilym Marles. His childhood was spent largely in Swansea, with regular summer trips to visit his maternal aunts' Carmarthenshire farms. These rural sojourns and the contrast with the town life of Swansea provided inspiration for much of his work, notably many short stories, radio essays, and the poem Fern Hill. Thomas was known to be a sickly child who suffered from bronchitis and asthma. He shied away from school and preferred reading on his own. He was considered too frail to fight in World War II, instead serving the war effort by writing scripts for the government. Thomas's formal education began at Mrs. Hole's Dame school, a private school which was situated a few streets away on Mirador Crescent. He described his experience there in Quite Early One Morning: Never was there such a dame school as ours, so firm and kind and smelling of galoshes, with the sweet and fumbled music of the piano lessons drifting down from upstairs to the lonely schoolroom, where only the sometimes tearful wicked sat over undone sums, or to repent a little crime — the pulling of a girl's hair during geography, the sly shin kick under the table during English literature. In October 1925, Thomas attended the single-sex Swansea Grammar School, in the Mount Pleasant district of the city, where his father taught. He was an undistinguished student. Thomas's first poem was published in the school's magazine. He later became its editor. He began keeping poetry notebooks and amassed 200 poems in four such journals between 1930 and 1934. He left school at 16 to become a reporter for the local newspaper, the South Wales Daily Post, only to leave the job under pressure 18 months later in 1932. After leaving the job he filled his notebooks even faster. Of the 90 poems he published, half were written during these first years. He then joined an amateur dramatic group in Mumbles called Little Theatre (Now Known as Swansea Little Theatre), but still continued to work as a freelance journalist for a few more years. Thomas spent his time visiting the cinema in the Uplands, walking along Swansea Bay, visiting a theatre where he used to perform, and frequenting Swansea's pubs. He especially patronised those in the Mumbles area such the Antelope Hotel and the Mermaid Hotel. A short walk from the local newspaper where he worked was the Kardomah Café in Castle Street, central Swansea. At the café he met with various artist contemporaries, such as his good friend the poet Vernon Watkins. These writers, musicians and artists became known as 'The Kardomah Gang'. In 1932, Thomas embarked on what would be one of his various visits to London. In February 1941, Swansea was bombed by the German Luftwaffe in a "three nights' blitz". Castle Street was just one of the many streets in Swansea that suffered badly; the rows of shops, including the 'Kardomah Café', were destroyed. Thomas later wrote about this in his radio play Return Journey Home, in which he describes the café as being "razed to the snow". Return Journey Home was first broadcast on 15 June 1947, having been written soon after the bombing raids. Thomas walked through the bombed-out shell of the town centre with his friend Bert Trick. Upset at the sight, he concluded: "Our Swansea is dead". The Kardomah Café later reopened on Portland Street, not far from the original location. Career and family It is often commented that Thomas was indulged like a child and he was, in fact, still a teenager when he published many of the poems he would become famous for: “And death shall have no dominion" “Before I Knocked” and “The Force That Through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower". "And death shall have no dominion", appeared in the New English Weekly in May 1933 and further work appeared in The Listener in 1934 catching the attention of two of the most senior poets of the day T. S. Eliot and Stephen Spender. His highly acclaimed first poetry volume, 18 Poems, was published on 18 December 1934, and went on to win a contest run by The Sunday Referee, netting him new admirers from the London poetry world, including Edith Sitwell. The anthology was published by Fortune Press, which did not pay its writers and expected them to buy a certain number of copies themselves. A similar arrangement would later be used by a number of other new authors, including Philip Larkin. His passionate musical lyricism caused a sensation in these years of desiccated Modernism; the critic Desmond Hawkins said it was “the sort of bomb that bursts no more than once in three years”. In all, he wrote half of his poems while living at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive before he moved to London. It was also the time that Thomas's reputation for heavy drinking developed. In the spring of 1936, Dylan Thomas met dancer Caitlin Macnamara in the Wheatsheaf pub, in the Fitzrovia area of London's West End. They were introduced by Augustus John, who was Macnamara's lover at the time (there were rumours that she continued her relationship with John after she married Thomas). A drunken Thomas proposed to Macnamara on the spot, and the two began a courtship. On 11 July 1937, Thomas married Macnamara in a register office in Penzance, Cornwall. In 1938, the couple rented a cottage in the village of Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, West Wales. Their first child, Llewelyn Edouard, was born on 30 January 1939 (d. 2000). Their daughter, Aeronwy Thomas-Ellis, was born on 3 March 1943 (d. 2009). A second son, Colm Garan Hart, was born on 24 July 1949. Wartime and after At the outset of the Second World War, Thomas was designated C3, which meant that although he could, in theory, be called up for service he would be in one of the last groups to be so. He was saddened to see his friends enter active service leaving him behind and drank whilst struggling to support his family. He lived on tiny fees from writing and reviewing and borrowed heavily from friends and acquaintances, writing begging letters to random literary figures in hope of support, envisaging this as a plan of long term regular income. He wrote to the director of the films division of the Ministry of Information asking for employment but after a rebuff eventually ended up working for Strand Films. Strand produced films for the Ministry of Information and Thomas scripted at least five in 1942 with titles such as This Is Colour (about dye), New Towns For Old, These Are The Men and Our Country (a sentimental tour of Britain). He actively sought to build a reputation as a raconteur and outrageous writer, heavy drinker and wit. The publication of Deaths and Entrances in 1946 was a major turning point for Thomas. Poet and critic W. J. Turner commented in The Spectator "This book alone, in my opinion, ranks him as a major poet". Thomas was well known for being a versatile and dynamic speaker, best known for his poetry readings. He made over 200 broadcasts for the BBC. Often considered his greatest single work, Under Milk Wood, a radio play featuring the characters of Llareggub, is set in a fictional Welsh fishing village ('Llareggub' is 'Bugger All' backwards, implying that there is absolutely nothing to do there). The BBC credited their producer Stella Hillier with ensuring the play actually materialised. Assigned "some of the more wayward characters who were then writing for the BBC", she dragged the notoriously unreliable Thomas out of the pub and back to her office to finish the work. The play took several years to write, the first half mostly in South Leigh, Oxford, in 1948, whilst the second half was mostly written in America in May 1953. Fewer than 300 lines were written in Laugharne, according to one account, which also explains the influence of New Quay on the play. New York John Malcolm Brinnin invited Thomas to New York and in 1950 embarked on a lucrative three month tour of arts centres and campuses in the States. He toured there again in 1952, this time with Caitlin, who discovered that he had been unfaithful on his 1950 trip. They both drank heavily, as if in competition, Thomas's health beginning to suffer with gout and lung problems. Thomas performed a 'work in progress' version of Under Milk Wood solo for the first time on 3 May at Harvard during his early 1953 US tour, and then with a cast at the Poetry Centre in New York on 14 May. He worked on the play further in Wales, where in its completed form it premiered the Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen, Wales on 8 October 1953, just 12 miles away from Laugharne. It was said Thomas gave a 'supreme virtuoso performance'. He then travelled to London and on the 19 October he flew to America. He died in New York on 5 November 1953 before the BBC could record the play. Richard Burton starred in the first broadcast in 1954 and was joined by Elizabeth Taylor in a subsequent film. Thomas's last collection Collected Poems, 1934–1952, published when he was 38, won the Foyle poetry prize. He wrote "Do not go gentle into that good night", a villanelle, to his dying father, who passed away in 1952, one of the poet's last poems. Death Thomas arrived in New York on 20 October 1953, to take part in a performance of Under Milk Wood at the city's prestigious Poetry Centre. He was already ill and had a history of blackouts and heart problems, using an inhaler in New York to help his breathing. Thomas had liked to boast of his addiction to drinking, saying "An alcoholic is someone you don't like, who drinks as much as you do." He "liked the taste of whisky" and had a powerful reputation for his drinking. The writer Elizabeth Hardwick recalled how intoxicating a performer he was and how the tension would build before a performance: “Would he arrive only to break down on the stage? Would some dismaying scene take place at the faculty party? Would he be offensive, violent, obscene? These were alarming and yet exciting possibilities.” His wife Caitlin said in her embittered memoir “Nobody ever needed encouragement less, and he was drowned in it.” Thomas “exhibited the excesses and experienced the adulation which would later be associated with rock stars,” however the amount he is supposed to have drunk in his lifetime and in New York before his death, may well have been exaggerated as Thomas became mythologised. On the evening of 27 October 1953, Thomas's 39th birthday, the poet attended a party in his honour but felt so unwell that he returned to his hotel. On 28 October 1953, he took part in Poetry And The Film, a recorded symposium at Cinema 16, which included panellists Amos Vogel, Maya Deren, Parker Tyler, and Willard Maas. The director of the Poetry Centre, John Brinnin, was also Thomas's tour agent. Brinnin didn't travel to New York, remaining at home in Boston and handed responsibility to his assistant, Liz Reitell. Reitell met Thomas at Idlewild Airport (now JFK airport) and he told her that he had had a terrible week, had missed her terribly and wanted to go to bed with her. Despite Reitell's previous misgivings about their relationship they spent the rest of the day and night together at the Chelsea Hotel. The next day she invited him to her apartment but he declined, saying that he was not feeling well and retired to his bed for the rest of the afternoon. After spending the night at the hotel with Thomas, Reitell went back to her own apartment for a change of clothes. At breakfast Herb Hannum noticed how sick Thomas looked and suggested a visit to a Dr. Feltenstein before the performance of Under Milk Wood that evening. The doctor went to work with his needle, and Thomas made it through the two performances of Under Milk Wood, but collapsed straight afterwards. Reitell would later describe Feltenstein as a wild doctor who believed injections could cure anything. A turning point came on 2 November. Air pollution in New York had risen significantly and exacerbated chest illnesses, such as Thomas had. By the end of the month, over two hundred New Yorkers had died from the smog. On 3 November Thomas spent most of that day in bed drinking. He went out in the evening to keep two drink appointments. After returning to the hotel, he went out again for a drink at 2am. After drinking at the White Horse Tavern, a pub he'd found through Scottish poet Ruthven Todd, Thomas returned to the Hotel Chelsea, declaring, "I've had eighteen straight whiskies. I think that's the record!" The barman and the owner of the pub who served Thomas at the time later commented that Thomas couldn't have imbibed more than half that amount. Thomas had an appointment to visit a clam house in New Jersey on 4 November. When phoned at the Chelsea that morning, he said that he was feeling awful and asked to take a rain-check. Later, he did go drinking with Reitell at the White Horse and, feeling sick again, returned to the hotel. Dr. Feltenstein came to see him three times that day, on the third call prescribing morphine, which seriously affected Thomas's breathing. At midnight on 5 November, his breathing became more difficult and his face turned blue. Reitell unsuccessfully tried to get hold of Feltenstein. Thomas was admitted to the emergency ward at nearby St Vincent's hospital. The medical notes state that he arrived in a coma at 1.am, and that the "impression upon admission was acute alcoholic encephalopathy damage to the brain by alcohol, for which the patient was treated without response". The duty doctors found bronchitis in all parts of his bronchial tree, both left and right sides. An X-ray showed pneumonia, and a raised white cell count confirmed the presence of an infection. Caitlin in Laugharne was sent a telegram on 5 November, notifying her that Dylan was in hospital. She flew to America the following day and was taken, with a police escort, to the hospital. Her alleged first words were "Is the bloody man dead yet?" The pneumonia worsened and Thomas died, whilst in coma, at noon on 9 November. Aftermath The first rumours to circulate were of a brain haemorrhage, followed by reports that he had been mugged and soon stories began to fly that he had drunk himself to death. Later, there were speculations about drugs and diabetes. At the post-mortem, the pathologist found that the immediate cause of death was swelling of the brain, caused by the pneumonia reducing the supply of oxygen. Despite his heavy drinking his liver showed little sign of cirrhosis. Following his death, his body was brought back to Wales for his burial in the village churchyard at Laugharne on 25 November. One of the last people to stay at his graveside after the funeral was his mother, Florence. Thomas's obituary was written by his long-time friend and Welsh poet Vernon Watkins. His widow, Caitlin, died in 1994 and was buried alongside him. Thomas's father 'DJ' died on 16 December 1952 and his mother Florence died in August 1958. Thomas's elder son, Llewelyn, died in 2000. His only daughter, Aeronwy, died in 2009. Caitlin Thomas's two searing autobiographies, Caitlin Thomas - Leftover Life to Kill (1957) and Double Drink Story: My life with Dylan (1997, published posthumously), both describe the highly destructive effect of alcoholism to the poet and to their relationship. "But ours was a drink story, not a love story, just like millions of others. Our one and only true love was drink", she writes. "The bar was our altar". His biographer Lycett ascribed the demise of Dylan's health to an alcoholic co-dependent relationship with his wife Caitlin, who deeply resented his affairs. Poetry Thomas's verbal style played against strict verse forms, such as in the villanelle Do not go gentle into that good night. His images were carefully ordered in a patterned sequence, and his major theme was the unity of all life, the continuing process of life and death and new life that linked the generations. Thomas saw biology as a magical transformation producing unity out of diversity, and in his poetry he sought a poetic ritual to celebrate this unity. He saw men and women locked in cycles of growth, love, procreation, new growth, death, and new life again. Therefore, each image engenders its opposite. Thomas derived his closely woven, sometimes self-contradictory images from the Bible, Welsh folklore and preaching, and Freud. Thomas's poetry is notable for its musicality, most clear in poems such as Fern Hill, In Country Sleep, Ballad of the Long-legged Bait or In the White Giant's Thigh from Under Milkwood: Who once were a bloom of wayside brides in the hawed house and heard the lewd, wooed field flow to the coming frost, the scurrying, furred small friars squeal in the dowse of day, in the thistle aisles, till the white owl crossed Thomas once confided that the poems which had most influenced him were Mother Goose rhymes which his parents taught him when he was a child: I should say I wanted to write poetry in the beginning because I had fallen in love with words. The first poems I knew were nursery rhymes and before I could read them for myself I had come to love the words of them. The words alone. What the words stood for was of a very secondary importance. [...] I fell in love, that is the only expression I can think of, at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy. I tumbled for words at once. And, when I began to read the nursery rhymes for myself, and, later, to read other verses and ballads, I knew that I had discovered the most important things, to me, that could be ever. Memorials A statue of Thomas is in the city's maritime quarter. The Dylan Thomas Theatre Swansea Little Theatre and the Dylan Thomas Centre, formerly the town's Guildhall, are also found in Swansea. The latter is now a literature centre, where exhibitions and lectures are held, and is the setting for an annual Dylan Thomas Festival. Another monument to Thomas stands in Cwmdonkin Park, one of his favourite childhood haunts, close to his birthplace at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive. The memorial is a small rock in a closed-off garden, set within the park. The rock is inscribed with the closing lines from "Fern Hill”: Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means Time held me green and dying Though I sang in my chains like the sea. Thomas's home in Laugharne, the Boat House, has been made a memorial. Several of the pubs in Swansea also have associations with the poet. One of Swansea's oldest pubs, 'The No Sign Bar' (since renamed 'The No Sign Wine Bar') was a regular haunt of Thomas's and is mentioned in his story "The Followers". A class 153 diesel multiple unit was named 'Dylan Thomas 1914–1953' and in 2004 the Dylan Thomas Prize was created in honour of the poet, awarded to the best published writer in English under the age of 30. Following this, in 2005, the Dylan Thomas Screenplay Award was established. The prize is administered by the Dylan Thomas Centre, and is awarded at the annual Swansea Bay Film Festival. In 1982 a plaque was unveiled in his honour in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey. Poetry collections 1934 18 Poems 1936 Twenty-Five Poems 1939 The Map of Love 1943 New Poems 1946 Deaths and Entrances 1950 Twenty-Six Poems 1952 In Country Sleep 1952 Collected Poems, 1934–1952 References Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dylan_Thomas

James Thomson

James Thomson (c. 11 September 1700– 27 August 1748) was a Scottish poet and playwright, known for his masterpiece The Seasons and the lyrics of “Rule, Britannia!”. Scotland, 1700–1725 James Thomson was born in Ednam in Roxburghshire around 11 September 1700 and baptised on 15 September. He was the fourth of nine children of Thomas Thomson and Beatrix Thomson (née Trotter). Beatrix Thomson was born in Fogo, Berwickshire and was a distant relation of the house of Hume. Thomas Thomson was the Presbyterian minister of Ednam until eight weeks after Thomson’s birth, when he was admitted as minister of Southdean, where Thomson spent most of his early years. Thomson may have attended the parish school of Southdean before going to the grammar school in Jedburgh in 1712. He failed to distinguish himself there. Shiels, his earliest biographer, writes: 'far from appearing to possess a sprightly genius, [Thomson] was considered by his schoolmaster, and those which directed his education, as being really without a common share of parts’. He was, however, encouraged to write poetry by Robert Riccaltoun (1691–1769), a farmer, poet and Presbyterian minister; and Sir William Bennet (d. 1729), a whig laird who was a patron of Allan Ramsay. While some early poems by Thomson survive, he burned most of them on New Year’s Day each year. Thomson entered the College of Edinburgh in autumn 1715, destined for the Presbyterian ministry. At Edinburgh he studied metaphysics, Logic, Ethics, Greek, Latin and Natural Philosophy. He completed his arts course in 1719 but chose not to graduate, instead entering Divinity Hall to become a minister. In 1716 Thomas Thomson died, with local legend saying that he was killed whilst performing an exorcism. At Edinburgh Thomson became a member of the Grotesque Club, a literary group, and he met his lifelong friend David Mallet. After the successful publication of some of his poems in the ‘’Edinburgh Miscellany’’ Thomson followed Mallet to London in February 1725 in an effort to publish his verse. London, 1725–1727 In London, Thomson became a tutor to the son of Charles Hamilton, Lord Binning, through connections on his mother’s side of the family. Through David Mallet, by 1724 a published poet, Thomson met the great English poets of the day including Richard Savage, Aaron Hill and Alexander Pope. Thomson’s mother died on 12 May 1725, around the time of his writing ‘Winter’, the first poem of ‘‘The Seasons’’. ‘Winter’ was first published in 1726 by John Millian, with a second edition being released (with revisions, additions and a preface) later the same year. By 1727, Thomson was working on Summer, published in February, and was working at Watt’s Academy, a school for young gentlemen and a bastion of Newtonian science. In the same year Millian published a poem by Thomson titled ‘A Poem to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton’ (who had died in March). Leaving Watt’s academy, Thomson hoped to earn a living through his poetry, helped by his acquiring several wealthy patrons including Thomas Rundle, the countess of Hertford and Charles Talbot, 1st Baron Talbot. Later life, 1728–1748 He wrote Spring in 1728 and finally Autumn in 1730, when the set of four was published together as The Seasons. During this period he also wrote other poems, such as to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton, and his first play, The Tragedy of Sophonisba (1729). The latter is best known today for its mention in Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the English Poets, where Johnson records that one 'feeble’ line of the poem - “O, Sophonisba, Sophonisba, O!” was parodied by the wags of the theatre as, “O, Jemmy Thomson, Jemmy Thomson, O!”. In 1730, he became tutor to the son of Sir Charles Talbot, then Solicitor-General, and spent nearly two years in the company of the young man on a tour of Europe. On his return Talbot arranged for him to become a secretary in chancery, which gave him financial security until Talbot’s death in 1737. Meanwhile, there appeared his next major work, Liberty (1734). In 1740, he collaborated with Mallet on the masque Alfred which was first performed at Cliveden, the country home of Frederick, Prince of Wales. Thomson’s words for “Rule Britannia”, written as part of that masque and set to music by Thomas Arne, became one of the best-known British patriotic songs - quite apart from the masque which is now virtually forgotten. The Prince gave him a pension of £100 per annum. He had also introduced him to George Lyttelton, who became his friend and patron. In later years, Thomson lived in Richmond upon Thames, and it was there that he wrote his final work The Castle of Indolence, which was published just before his untimely death on 27 August 1748. Johnson writes about Thomson’s death, “by taking cold on the water between London and Kew, he caught a disorder, which, with some careless exasperation, ended in a fever that put end to his life”. He is buried in St. Mary Magdalene church in Richmond. A dispute over the publishing rights to one of his works, The Seasons, gave rise to two important legal decisions (Millar v. Taylor; Donaldson v. Beckett) in the history of copyright. Thomson’s The Seasons was translated into German by Barthold Heinrich Brockes (1745). This translation formed the basis for a work with the same title by Gottfried van Swieten, which became the libretto for Haydn’s oratorio The Seasons. Memorials Thomson is one of the sixteen Scottish poets and writers appearing on the Scott Monument on Princes Street in Edinburgh. He appears on the right side of the east face. Editions Thomson, James & Bloomfield, Robert, The Seasons & Castles of Indolence / The Farmer’s Boy, Rural Tales, Banks of the Wye, &c. &c., (London: Scott, Webster & Geary, 1842). Gilfillan, Rev. George, Thomson’s Poetical Works, with Life, Critical Dissertation, and Explanatory Notes, Library Edition of the British Poets (1854). Thomson, James. The Seasons, by... A New Edition. Adorned with A Set of Engravings, from Original Paintings. Together with an Original Life of the Author, and a Critical Essay on the Seasons. by Robert Heron, (Perth: R. Morison, 1793) Thomson, James. Poems, edited by William Bayne, London: Walter Scott Publishing Co., [1900], (Series: The Canterbury poets). Thomson, James. The Seasons, edited with introduction and commentary by James Sambrook, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981) ISBN 0-19-812713-8. Thomson, James. Liberty, The Castle of Indolence and other poems, edited with introduction and commentary by James Sambrook, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986) ISBN 0-19-812759-6. Bayne, William, Life of James Thomson, Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier, 1898, ("Famous Scots Series"). References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Thomson_(poet,_born_1700)

Francis Thompson

Francis Thompson (16 December 1859– 13 November 1907) was an English poet and ascetic. After attending college, he moved to London to become a writer, but could only find menial work and became addicted to opium, and was a street vagrant for years. A married couple read his poetry and rescued him, publishing his first book Poems in 1893. Thompson lived as an unbalanced invalid in Wales and at Storrington, but wrote three books of poetry, with other works and essays, before dying of tuberculosis in 1907. Life and work Thompson was born in Winckley Street, Preston, Lancashire. His father, Charles, was a doctor who had converted to Roman Catholicism, following his brother Edward Healy Thompson, a friend of Cardinal Manning. Thompson was educated at Ushaw College, near Durham, and then studied medicine at Owens College, now the University of Manchester. He took no real interest in his studies and never practised as a doctor, moving instead to London in 1885, to try to become a writer. Here he was reduced to selling matches and newspapers for a living. During this time, he became addicted to opium, which he first had taken as medicine for ill health. Thompson started living on the streets of Charing Cross and sleeping by the River Thames, with the homeless and other addicts. He was turned down by Oxford University, not because he was unqualified, but because of his drug addiction. Thompson attempted suicide in his nadir of despair, but was saved from completing the action through a vision which he believed to be that of a youthful poet Thomas Chatterton, who had committed suicide almost a century earlier. A prostitute– whose identity Thompson never revealed– befriended him, gave him lodgings and shared her income with him. Thompson was later to describe her in his poetry as his saviour. She soon disappeared, however, never to return, in his estimation because she feared she would taint his growing reputation. In 1888, he had been 'discovered’ after sending his poetry to the magazine Merrie England. He had been sought out by the magazine’s editors, Wilfrid and Alice Meynell. Recognizing the value of his work, the couple gave him a home and arranged for publication of his first book Poems in 1893. The book attracted the attention of sympathetic critics in the St James’s Gazette and other newspapers, and Coventry Patmore wrote a eulogistic notice in the Fortnightly Review of January 1894. Concerned about his opium addiction, which was at its height following his years on the streets, the Meynells sent Thompson to Our Lady of England Priory, Storrington. Thompson subsequently lived as an invalid at Pantasaph, Flintshire in Wales and at Storrington. A lifetime of extreme poverty, ill-health, and an addiction to opium took a heavy toll on Thompson, even though he found success in his last years. He would eventually die from tuberculosis at the age of 47, in the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth and he is buried in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery in Kensal Green. His tomb bears the last line from a poem he wrote for his godson - Look for me in the nurseries of Heaven. Style and influence His most famous poem, The Hound of Heaven, describes the pursuit of the human soul by God. This poem is the source of the phrase “with all deliberate speed,” used by the Supreme Court in Brown II, the remedy phase of the famous decision on school desegregation. A phrase in The Kingdom of God is the source of the title of Han Suyin’s novel Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing. In addition, Thompson wrote the most famous cricket poem, the nostalgic At Lord’s. He also wrote Sister Songs (1895), New Poems (1897), and a posthumously published essay, Shelley (1909). He wrote a treatise On Health and Holiness, dealing with the ascetic life, which was published in 1905. G. K. Chesterton said shortly after his death that “with Francis Thompson we lost the greatest poetic energy since Browning.” Among Thompson’s devotees was the young J. R. R. Tolkien, who purchased a volume of Thompson’s works in 1913-1914, and later said that it was an important influence on his own writing. The American novelist Madeleine L’Engle used a line from the poem The Mistress of Vision as the title of her last Vicki Austin novel, Troubling a Star. In 2011, Thompson’s life was the subject of the stage play and film script HOUND (Visions in the Life of the Poet Francis Thompson) by writer/director Chris Ward, which has been performed in various venues around London. Jack the Ripper suspect In his 1999 book Paradox, Australian author and educator Richard Patterson named Thompson as a possible identity of serial killer Jack the Ripper. On 6 November 2015, Patterson strengthened his claim. Home Thompson’s birthplace, in Winckley Street, Preston is marked by a memorial plaque. The inscription reads: "Francis Thompson poet was born in this house Dec 16 1859. Ever and anon a trumpet sounds, From the hid battlements of eternity." The home in Ashton-under-Lyne where Thompson lived from 1864 to 1885 was also marked with a blue plaque. In 2014, however, the building collapsed. References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Thompson

William Makepeace Thackeray

William Makepeace Thackeray (18 July 1811– 24 December 1863) was an English novelist of the 19th century. He is famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society. Biography Thackeray, an only child, was born in Calcutta, India, where his father, Richmond Thackeray (1 September 1781– 13 September 1815), was secretary to the Board of Revenue in the British East India Company. His mother, Anne Becher (1792–1864), was the second daughter of Harriet Becher and John Harman Becher, who was also a secretary (writer) for the East India Company. Richmond died in 1815, which caused Anne to send her son to England in 1816, while she remained in India. The ship on which he travelled made a short stopover at St. Helena, where the imprisoned Napoleon was pointed out to him. Once in England he was educated at schools in Southampton and Chiswick, and then at Charterhouse School, where he became a close friend of John Leech. Thackeray disliked Charterhouse, and parodied it in his fiction as “Slaughterhouse”. Nevertheless, Thackeray was honoured in the Charterhouse Chapel with a monument after his death. Illness in his last year there, during which he reportedly grew to his full height of six foot three, postponed his matriculation at Trinity College, Cambridge, until February 1829.Never too keen on academic studies, Thackeray left Cambridge in 1830, but some of his earliest published writing appeared in two university periodicals, The Snob and The Gownsman. Thackeray then travelled for some time on the continent, visiting Paris and Weimar, where he met Goethe. He returned to England and began to study law at the Middle Temple, but soon gave that up. On reaching the age of 21 he came into his inheritance from his father, but he squandered much of it on gambling and on funding two unsuccessful newspapers, The National Standard and The Constitutional, for which he had hoped to write. He also lost a good part of his fortune in the collapse of two Indian banks. Forced to consider a profession to support himself, he turned first to art, which he studied in Paris, but did not pursue it, except in later years as the illustrator of some of his own novels and other writings. Thackeray’s years of semi-idleness ended after he married, on 20 August 1836, Isabella Gethin Shawe (1816–1893), second daughter of Isabella Creagh Shawe and Matthew Shawe, a colonel who had died after distinguished service, primarily in India. The Thackerays had three children, all girls: Anne Isabella (1837–1919), Jane (who died at eight months old) and Harriet Marian (1840–1875). Thackeray now began “writing for his life”, as he put it, turning to journalism in an effort to support his young family. He primarily worked for Fraser’s Magazine, a sharp-witted and sharp-tongued conservative publication for which he produced art criticism, short fictional sketches, and two longer fictional works, Catherine and The Luck of Barry Lyndon. Between 1837 and 1840 he also reviewed books for The Times. He was also a regular contributor to The Morning Chronicle and The Foreign Quarterly Review. Later, through his connection to the illustrator John Leech, he began writing for the newly created magazine Punch, in which he published The Snob Papers, later collected as The Book of Snobs. This work popularised the modern meaning of the word “snob”.Thackeray was a regular contributor to Punch between 1843 and 1854. Tragedy struck in Thackeray’s personal life as his wife, Isabella, succumbed to depression after the birth of their third child, in 1840. Finding that he could get no work done at home, he spent more and more time away until September 1840, when he realised how grave his wife’s condition was. Struck by guilt, he set out with his wife to Ireland. During the crossing she threw herself from a water-closet into the sea, but she was pulled from the waters. They fled back home after a four-week battle with her mother. From November 1840 to February 1842 Isabella was in and out of professional care, as her condition waxed and waned. She eventually deteriorated into a permanent state of detachment from reality. Thackeray desperately sought cures for her, but nothing worked, and she ended up in two different asylums in or near Paris until 1845, after which Thackeray took her back to England, where he installed her with a Mrs Bakewell at Camberwell. Isabella outlived her husband by 30 years, in the end being cared for by a family named Thompson in Leigh-on-Sea at Southend until her death in 1894. After his wife’s illness Thackeray became a de facto widower, never establishing another permanent relationship. He did pursue other women, however, in particular Mrs Jane Brookfield and Sally Baxter. In 1851 Mr Brookfield barred Thackeray from further visits to or correspondence with Jane. Baxter, an American twenty years Thackeray’s junior whom he met during a lecture tour in New York City in 1852, married another man in 1855. In the early 1840s Thackeray had some success with two travel books, The Paris Sketch Book and The Irish Sketch Book, the latter marked by hostility to Irish Catholics. However, as the book appealed to British prejudices, Thackeray was given the job of being Punch’s Irish expert, often under the pseudonym Hibernis Hibernior. It was Thackeray, in other words, who was chiefly responsible for Punch’s notoriously hostile and condescending depictions of the Irish during An Gorta Mór (1845–51). Thackeray achieved more recognition with his Snob Papers (serialised 1846/7, published in book form in 1848), but the work that really established his fame was the novel Vanity Fair, which first appeared in serialised instalments beginning in January 1847. Even before Vanity Fair completed its serial run Thackeray had become a celebrity, sought after by the very lords and ladies whom he satirised. They hailed him as the equal of Dickens. He remained “at the top of the tree,” as he put it, for the rest of his life, during which he produced several large novels, notably Pendennis, The Newcomes and The History of Henry Esmond, despite various illnesses, including a near-fatal one that struck him in 1849 in the middle of writing Pendennis. He twice visited the United States on lecture tours during this period. Thackeray also gave lectures in London on the English humorists of the eighteenth century, and on the first four Hanoverian monarchs. The latter series was published in book form as The Four Georges. In Oxford he stood unsuccessfully as an independent for Parliament. He was narrowly beaten by Cardwell, who received 1,070 votes, as against 1,005 for Thackeray. In 1860 Thackeray became editor of the newly established Cornhill Magazine, but he was never comfortable in the role, preferring to contribute to the magazine as the writer of a column called Roundabout Papers. Thackeray’s health worsened during the 1850s and he was plagued by a recurring stricture of the urethra that laid him up for days at a time. He also felt that he had lost much of his creative impetus. He worsened matters by excessive eating and drinking, and avoiding exercise, though he enjoyed horseback-riding (he kept a horse). He has been described as “the greatest literary glutton who ever lived”. His main activity apart from writing was “guttling and gorging”. He could not break his addiction to spicy peppers, further ruining his digestion. On 23 December 1863, after returning from dining out and before dressing for bed, he suffered a stroke. He was found dead in his bed the following morning. His death at the age of fifty-two was entirely unexpected, and shocked his family, his friends and the reading public. An estimated 7,000 people attended his funeral at Kensington Gardens. He was buried on 29 December at Kensal Green Cemetery, and a memorial bust sculpted by Marochetti can be found in Westminster Abbey. Works Thackeray began as a satirist and parodist, writing works that displayed a sneaking fondness for roguish upstarts such as Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair, and the title characters of The Luck of Barry Lyndon and Catherine. In his earliest works, written under such pseudonyms as Charles James Yellowplush, Michael Angelo Titmarsh and George Savage Fitz-Boodle, he tended towards savagery in his attacks on high society, military prowess, the institution of marriage and hypocrisy. One of his earliest works, “Timbuctoo” (1829), contains a burlesque upon the subject set for the Cambridge Chancellor’s Medal for English Verse (the contest was won by Tennyson with “Timbuctoo”). Thackeray’s writing career really began with a series of satirical sketches now usually known as The Yellowplush Papers, which appeared in Fraser’s Magazine beginning in 1837. These were adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 2009, with Adam Buxton playing Charles Yellowplush. Between May 1839 and February 1840 Fraser’s published the work sometimes considered Thackeray’s first novel, Catherine. Originally intended as a satire of the Newgate school of crime fiction, it ended up being more of a picaresque tale. He also began work, never finished, on the novel later published as A Shabby Genteel Story. In The Luck of Barry Lyndon, a novel serialised in Fraser’s in 1844, Thackeray explored the situation of an outsider trying to achieve status in high society, a theme he developed more successfully in Vanity Fair with the character of Becky Sharp, the artist’s daughter who rises nearly to the heights by manipulating the other characters. Thackeray is probably best known now for Vanity Fair. In contrast, his large novels from the period after Vanity Fair, which were once described by Henry James as examples of “loose baggy monsters”, have largely faded from view, perhaps because they reflect a mellowing in Thackeray, who had become so successful with his satires on society that he seemed to lose his zest for attacking it. These later works include Pendennis, a Bildungsroman depicting the coming of age of Arthur Pendennis, an alter ego of Thackeray, who also features as the narrator of two later novels, The Newcomes and The Adventures of Philip. The Newcomes is noteworthy for its critical portrayal of the “marriage market,” while Philip is known for its semi-autobiographical depiction of Thackeray’s early life, in which he partially regains some of his early satirical power. Also notable among the later novels is The History of Henry Esmond, in which Thackeray tried to write a novel in the style of the eighteenth century, a period that held great appeal for him. Not only Esmond but also Barry Lyndon and Catherine are set in that period, as is the sequel to Esmond, The Virginians, which takes place in North America and includes George Washington as a character who nearly kills one of the protagonists in a duel. Family Parents Thackeray’s father, Richmond Thackeray, was born at South Mimms and went to India in 1798 at age sixteen as a writer (civil servant) with the East India Company. Richmond fathered a daughter, Sarah Redfield, in 1804 with Charlotte Sophia Rudd, his possibly Eurasian mistress, and both mother and daughter were named in his will. Such liaisons were common among gentlemen of the East India Company, and it formed no bar to his later courting and marrying William’s mother. Thackeray’s mother, Anne Becher (born 1792), was “one of the reigning beauties of the day” and a daughter of John Harmon Becher, Collector of the South 24 Parganas district (d. Calcutta, 1800), of an old Bengal civilian family “noted for the tenderness of its women”. Anne Becher, her sister Harriet and their widowed mother, also Harriet, had been sent back to India by her authoritarian guardian grandmother, Ann Becher, in 1809 on the Earl Howe. Anne’s grandmother had told her that the man she loved, Henry Carmichael-Smyth, an ensign in the Bengal Engineers whom she met at an Assembly Ball in 1807 in Bath, had died, while he was told that Anne was no longer interested in him. Neither of these assertions was true. Though Carmichael-Smyth was from a distinguished Scottish military family, Anne’s grandmother went to extreme lengths to prevent their marriage. Surviving family letters state that she wanted a better match for her granddaughter. Anne Becher and Richmond Thackeray were married in Calcutta on 13 October 1810. Their only child, William, was born on 18 July 1811. There is a fine miniature portrait of Anne Becher Thackeray and William Makepeace Thackeray, aged about two, done in Madras by George Chinnery c. 1813. Anne’s family’s deception was unexpectedly revealed in 1812, when Richmond Thackeray unwittingly invited the supposedly dead Carmichael-Smyth to dinner. Five years later, after Richmond had died of a fever on 13 September 1815, Anne married Henry Carmichael-Smyth, on 13 March 1817. The couple moved to England in 1820, after having sent William off to school there more than three years earlier. The separation from his mother had a traumatic effect on the young Thackeray, which he discussed in his essay “On Letts’s Diary” in The Roundabout Papers. Descendants Thackeray is an ancestor of the British financier Ryan Williams, and is the great-great-great-grandfather of the British comedian Al Murray. Reputation and legacy During the Victorian era Thackeray was ranked second only to Charles Dickens, but he is now much less widely read and is known almost exclusively for Vanity Fair, which has become a fixture in university courses, and has been repeatedly adapted for the cinema and television. In Thackeray’s own day some commentators, such as Anthony Trollope, ranked his History of Henry Esmond as his greatest work, perhaps because it expressed Victorian values of duty and earnestness, as did some of his other later novels. It is perhaps for this reason that they have not survived as well as Vanity Fair, which satirises those values. Thackeray saw himself as writing in the realistic tradition, and distinguished his work from the exaggerations and sentimentality of Dickens. Some later commentators have accepted this self-evaluation and seen him as a realist, but others note his inclination to use eighteenth-century narrative techniques, such as digressions and direct addresses to the reader, and argue that through them he frequently disrupts the illusion of reality. The school of Henry James, with its emphasis on maintaining that illusion, marked a break with Thackeray’s techniques. In 1887 the Royal Society of Arts unveiled a blue plaque to commemorate Thackeray at the house at 2 Palace Green, London, that had been built for him in the 1860s. It is now the location of the Israeli Embassy. Thackeray’s former home in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, is now a restaurant named after the author. List of works * The Yellowplush Papers (1837)– ISBN 0-8095-9676-8 * Catherine (1839–40)– ISBN 1-4065-0055-0 * A Shabby Genteel Story (1840)– ISBN 1-4101-0509-1 * The Irish Sketchbook (1843)– ISBN 0-86299-754-2 * The Luck of Barry Lyndon (1844), filmed as Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick– ISBN 0-19-283628-5 * Notes of a Journey from Cornhill to Grand Cairo (1846), under the name Mr M. A. Titmarsh. * Mrs. Perkins’s Ball (1846), under the name M. A. Titmarsh * The Book of Snobs (1848), which popularised that term– ISBN 0-8095-9672-5 * Vanity Fair (1848)– ISBN 0-14-062085-0 * Pendennis (1848–1850)– ISBN 1-4043-8659-9 * Rebecca and Rowena (1850), a parody sequel of Ivanhoe– ISBN 1-84391-018-7 * The Paris Sketchbook (1840), featuring Roger Bontemps * Men’s Wives (1852)– ISBN 978-1-77545-023-8 * The History of Henry Esmond (1852)– ISBN 0-14-143916-5 * The English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century (1853) * The Newcomes (1855)– ISBN 0-460-87495-0 * The Rose and the Ring (1855)– ISBN 1-4043-2741-X * The Virginians (1857–1859)– ISBN 1-4142-3952-1 * Four Georges (1860-1861) - ISBN 978-1410203007 * The Adventures of Philip (1862)– ISBN 1-4101-0510-5 * Roundabout Papers (1863) * Denis Duval (1864)– ISBN 1-4191-1561-8 * The Orphan of Pimlico (1876) * Sketches and Travels in London * Stray Papers: Being Stories, Reviews, Verses, and Sketches (1821-1847) * Literary Essays * The English Humorists of the eighteenth century: a series of lectures (1867) * Lovel the Widower * Ballads * Christmas Books * Samuel Titmarsh * Miscellanies * Stories * Burlesques * Irish Sketchbook volume 2 * Character Sketches * Critical Reviews * Second Funeral of Napoleon References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Makepeace_Thackeray

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (see name pronunciation; July 12, 1817– May 6, 1862) was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, and historian. A leading transcendentalist, Thoreau is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Resistance to Civil Government (also known as Civil Disobedience), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state. Thoreau’s books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry total over 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions are his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern-day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close natural observation, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and “Yankee” love of practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life’s true essential needs. He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau’s philosophy of civil disobedience later influenced the political thoughts and actions of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Thoreau is sometimes cited as an anarchist. Though Civil Disobedience seems to call for improving rather than abolishing government—"I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government"—the direction of this improvement points toward anarchism: “'That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.” Richard T. Drinnon reproaches Thoreau for his ambiguity when writing on governance, noting that Thoreau’s “sly satire, his liking for wide margins for his writing, and his fondness for paradox provided ammunition for widely divergent interpretations of 'Civil Disobedience’.” Name pronunciation and physical appearance Amos Bronson Alcott and Thoreau’s aunt each wrote that “Thoreau” is pronounced like the word “thorough” (pronounced THUR-oh—/ˈθʌroʊ/—in General American, but more precisely THOR-oh—/ˈθɔːroʊ/—in 19th-century New England). Edward Waldo Emerson wrote that the name should be pronounced “Thó-row”, with the h sounded and stress on the first syllable. Among modern-day American speakers, it is perhaps more commonly pronounced thə-ROH—/θəˈroʊ/—with stress on the second syllable. In appearance he was homely, with a nose that he called “my most prominent feature.” Of his face and disposition, Ellery Channing wrote: “His face, once seen, could not be forgotten. The features were quite marked: the nose aquiline or very Roman, like one of the portraits of Caesar (more like a beak, as was said); large overhanging brows above the deepest set blue eyes that could be seen, in certain lights, and in others gray,—eyes expressive of all shades of feeling, but never weak or near-sighted; the forehead not unusually broad or high, full of concentrated energy and purpose; the mouth with prominent lips, pursed up with meaning and thought when silent, and giving out when open with the most varied and unusual instructive sayings.” Life Early life and education, 1817–1836 Henry David Thoreau was born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts, into the “modest New England family” of John Thoreau (a pencil maker) and Cynthia Dunbar. His paternal grandfather was born in Jersey. His maternal grandfather, Asa Dunbar, led Harvard’s 1766 student “Butter Rebellion”, the first recorded student protest in the Colonies. David Henry was named after a recently deceased paternal uncle, David Thoreau. He did not become “Henry David” until after college, although he never petitioned to make a legal name change. He had two older siblings, Helen and John Jr., and a younger sister, Sophia. Thoreau’s birthplace still exists on Virginia Road in Concord. The house has recently been restored by the Thoreau Farm Trust, a nonprofit organization, and is now open to the public. He studied at Harvard College between 1833 and 1837. He lived in Hollis Hall and took courses in rhetoric, classics, philosophy, mathematics, and science. He was a member of the Institute of 1770 (now the Hasty Pudding Club). A legend proposes that Thoreau refused to pay the five-dollar fee for a Harvard diploma. In fact, the master’s degree he declined to purchase had no academic merit: Harvard College offered it to graduates “who proved their physical worth by being alive three years after graduating, and their saving, earning, or inheriting quality or condition by having Five Dollars to give the college.” His comment was: “Let every sheep keep its own skin”, a reference to the tradition of diplomas being written on sheepskin vellum. Return to Concord, 1836–1842 The traditional professions open to college graduates—law, the church, business, medicine—failed to interest Thoreau, so in 1835 he took a leave of absence from Harvard, during which he taught school in Canton, Massachusetts. After he graduated in 1837, he joined the faculty of the Concord public school, but resigned after a few weeks rather than administer corporal punishment. He and his brother John then opened a grammar school in Concord in 1838 called Concord Academy. They introduced several progressive concepts, including nature walks and visits to local shops and businesses. The school ended when John became fatally ill from tetanus in 1842 after cutting himself while shaving. He died in his brother Henry’s arms. Upon graduation Thoreau returned home to Concord, where he met Ralph Waldo Emerson through a mutual friend. Emerson took a paternal and at times patronizing interest in Thoreau, advising the young man and introducing him to a circle of local writers and thinkers, including Ellery Channing, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and his son Julian Hawthorne, who was a boy at the time. Emerson urged Thoreau to contribute essays and poems to a quarterly periodical, The Dial, and Emerson lobbied editor Margaret Fuller to publish those writings. Thoreau’s first essay published there was Aulus Persius Flaccus, an essay on the playwright of the same name, published in The Dial in July 1840. It consisted of revised passages from his journal, which he had begun keeping at Emerson’s suggestion. The first journal entry on October 22, 1837, reads, “'What are you doing now?' he asked. ‘Do you keep a journal?’ So I make my first entry to-day.” Thoreau was a philosopher of nature and its relation to the human condition. In his early years he followed Transcendentalism, a loose and eclectic idealist philosophy advocated by Emerson, Fuller, and Alcott. They held that an ideal spiritual state transcends, or goes beyond, the physical and empirical, and that one achieves that insight via personal intuition rather than religious doctrine. In their view, Nature is the outward sign of inward spirit, expressing the “radical correspondence of visible things and human thoughts”, as Emerson wrote in Nature (1836). On April 18, 1841, Thoreau moved into the Emerson house. There, from 1841–1844, he served as the children’s tutor, editorial assistant, and repair man/gardener. For a few months in 1843, he moved to the home of William Emerson on Staten Island, and tutored the family sons while seeking contacts among literary men and journalists in the city who might help publish his writings, including his future literary representative Horace Greeley. Thoreau returned to Concord and worked in his family’s pencil factory, which he continued to do for most of his adult life. He rediscovered the process to make a good pencil out of inferior graphite by using clay as the binder; this invention improved upon graphite found in New Hampshire and bought in 1821 by relative Charles Dunbar. (The process of mixing graphite and clay, known as the Conté process, was patented by Nicolas-Jacques Conté in 1795). His other source had been Tantiusques, an Indian operated mine in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. Later, Thoreau converted the factory to produce plumbago (graphite), which was used in the electrotyping process. Once back in Concord, Thoreau went through a restless period. In April 1844 he and his friend Edward Hoar accidentally set a fire that consumed 300 acres (1.2 km2) of Walden Woods. Civil Disobedience and the Walden years, 1845–1849 I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. Thoreau needed to concentrate and get himself working more on his writing. In March 1845, Ellery Channing told Thoreau, "Go out upon that, build yourself a hut, & there begin the grand process of devouring yourself alive. I see no other alternative, no other hope for you." Two months later, Thoreau embarked on a two-year experiment in simple living on July 4, 1845, when he moved to a small, self-built house on land owned by Emerson in a second-growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond. The house was in “a pretty pasture and woodlot” of 14 acres (57,000 m2) that Emerson had bought, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from his family home. On July 24 or July 25, 1846, Thoreau ran into the local tax collector, Sam Staples, who asked him to pay six years of delinquent poll taxes. Thoreau refused because of his opposition to the Mexican–American War and slavery, and he spent a night in jail because of this refusal. The next day Thoreau was freed when someone, likely his aunt, paid the tax against his wishes. The experience had a strong impact on Thoreau. In January and February 1848, he delivered lectures on “The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government” explaining his tax resistance at the Concord Lyceum. Bronson Alcott attended the lecture, writing in his journal on January 26: Heard Thoreau’s lecture before the Lyceum on the relation of the individual to the State– an admirable statement of the rights of the individual to self-government, and an attentive audience. His allusions to the Mexican War, to Mr. Hoar’s expulsion from Carolina, his own imprisonment in Concord Jail for refusal to pay his tax, Mr. Hoar’s payment of mine when taken to prison for a similar refusal, were all pertinent, well considered, and reasoned. I took great pleasure in this deed of Thoreau’s. Thoreau revised the lecture into an essay entitled Resistance to Civil Government (also known as Civil Disobedience). In May 1849 it was published by Elizabeth Peabody in the Aesthetic Papers. Thoreau had taken up a version of Percy Shelley’s principle in the political poem The Mask of Anarchy (1819), that Shelley begins with the powerful images of the unjust forms of authority of his time—and then imagines the stirrings of a radically new form of social action. At Walden Pond, he completed a first draft of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, an elegy to his brother, John, that described their 1839 trip to the White Mountains. Thoreau did not find a publisher for this book and instead printed 1,000 copies at his own expense, though fewer than 300 were sold. Thoreau self-published on the advice of Emerson, using Emerson’s own publisher, Munroe, who did little to publicize the book. In August 1846, Thoreau briefly left Walden to make a trip to Mount Katahdin in Maine, a journey later recorded in “Ktaadn”, the first part of The Maine Woods. Thoreau left Walden Pond on September 6, 1847. At Emerson’s request, he immediately moved back into the Emerson house to help Lidian manage the household while her husband was on an extended trip to Europe. Over several years, he worked to pay off his debts and also continuously revised his manuscript for what, in 1854, he would publish as Walden, or Life in the Woods, recounting the two years, two months, and two days he had spent at Walden Pond. The book compresses that time into a single calendar year, using the passage of four seasons to symbolize human development. Part memoir and part spiritual quest, Walden at first won few admirers, but later critics have regarded it as a classic American work that explores natural simplicity, harmony, and beauty as models for just social and cultural conditions. American poet Robert Frost wrote of Thoreau, “In one book... he surpasses everything we have had in America.” American author John Updike said of the book: “A century and a half after its publication, Walden has become such a totem of the back-to-nature, preservationist, anti-business, civil-disobedience mindset, and Thoreau so vivid a protester, so perfect a crank and hermit saint, that the book risks being as revered and unread as the Bible.” Thoreau moved out of Emerson’s house in July 1848 and stayed at a home on Belknap Street nearby. In 1850, he and his family moved into a home at 255 Main Street; he stayed there until his death. Later years, 1851–1862 In 1851, Thoreau became increasingly fascinated with natural history and travel/expedition narratives. He read avidly on botany and often wrote observations on this topic into his journal. He admired William Bartram, and Charles Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle. He kept detailed observations on Concord’s nature lore, recording everything from how the fruit ripened over time to the fluctuating depths of Walden Pond and the days certain birds migrated. The point of this task was to “anticipate” the seasons of nature, in his words. He became a land surveyor and continued to write increasingly detailed natural history observations about the 26 square miles (67 km2) town in his journal, a two-million word document he kept for 24 years. He also kept a series of notebooks, and these observations became the source for Thoreau’s late natural history writings, such as Autumnal Tints, The Succession of Trees, and Wild Apples, an essay lamenting the destruction of indigenous and wild apple species. Until the 1970s, literary critics dismissed Thoreau’s late pursuits as amateur science and philosophy. With the rise of environmental history and ecocriticism, several new readings of this matter began to emerge, showing Thoreau to be both a philosopher and an analyst of ecological patterns in fields and woodlots. For instance, his late essay, “The Succession of Forest Trees”, shows that he used experimentation and analysis to explain how forests regenerate after fire or human destruction, through dispersal by seed-bearing winds or animals. He traveled to Quebec once, Cape Cod four times, and Maine three times; these landscapes inspired his “excursion” books, A Yankee in Canada, Cape Cod, and The Maine Woods, in which travel itineraries frame his thoughts about geography, history and philosophy. Other travels took him southwest to Philadelphia and New York City in 1854, and west across the Great Lakes region in 1861, visiting Niagara Falls, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Mackinac Island. Although provincial in his physical travels, he was extraordinarily well-read. He obsessively devoured all the first-hand travel accounts available in his day, at a time when the last unmapped regions of the earth were being explored. He read Magellan and James Cook, the arctic explorers Franklin, Mackenzie and Parry, David Livingstone and Richard Francis Burton on Africa, Lewis and Clark; and hundreds of lesser-known works by explorers and literate travelers. Astonishing amounts of global reading fed his endless curiosity about the peoples, cultures, religions and natural history of the world, and left its traces as commentaries in his voluminous journals. He processed everything he read, in the local laboratory of his Concord experience. Among his famous aphorisms is his advice to “live at home like a traveler.” After John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, many prominent voices in the abolitionist movement distanced themselves from Brown, or damned him with faint praise. Thoreau was disgusted by this, and he composed a speech—A Plea for Captain John Brown—which was uncompromising in its defense of Brown and his actions. Thoreau’s speech proved persuasive: first the abolitionist movement began to accept Brown as a martyr, and by the time of the American Civil War entire armies of the North were literally singing Brown’s praises. As a contemporary biographer of John Brown put it: “If, as Alfred Kazin suggests, without John Brown there would have been no Civil War, we would add that without the Concord Transcendentalists, John Brown would have had little cultural impact.” Death Thoreau contracted tuberculosis in 1835 and suffered from it sporadically afterwards. In 1859, following a late-night excursion to count the rings of tree stumps during a rain storm, he became ill with bronchitis. His health declined over three years with brief periods of remission, until he eventually became bedridden. Recognizing the terminal nature of his disease, Thoreau spent his last years revising and editing his unpublished works, particularly The Maine Woods and Excursions, and petitioning publishers to print revised editions of A Week and Walden. He also wrote letters and journal entries until he became too weak to continue. His friends were alarmed at his diminished appearance and were fascinated by his tranquil acceptance of death. When his aunt Louisa asked him in his last weeks if he had made his peace with God, Thoreau responded: “I did not know we had ever quarreled.” Aware he was dying, Thoreau’s last words were “Now comes good sailing”, followed by two lone words, “moose” and “Indian”. He died on May 6, 1862 at age 44. Bronson Alcott planned the service and read selections from Thoreau’s works, and Channing presented a hymn. Emerson wrote the eulogy spoken at his funeral. Originally buried in the Dunbar family plot, he and members of his immediate family were eventually moved to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (N42° 27' 53.7" W71° 20' 33") in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau’s friend Ellery Channing published his first biography, Thoreau the Poet-Naturalist, in 1873, and Channing and another friend Harrison Blake edited some poems, essays, and journal entries for posthumous publication in the 1890s. Thoreau’s journals, which he often mined for his published works but which remained largely unpublished at his death, were first published in 1906 and helped to build his modern reputation. A new, expanded edition of the journals is underway, published by Princeton University Press. Today, Thoreau is regarded as one of the foremost American writers, both for the modern clarity of his prose style and the prescience of his views on nature and politics. His memory is honored by the international Thoreau Society and his legacy honored by the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods, established in 1998 in Lincoln, Massachusetts. Nature and human existence Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. Thoreau was an early advocate of recreational hiking and canoeing, of conserving natural resources on private land, and of preserving wilderness as public land. He was not a strict vegetarian, though he said he preferred that diet and advocated it as a means of self-improvement. He wrote in Walden: “The practical objection to animal food in my case was its uncleanness; and besides, when I had caught and cleaned and cooked and eaten my fish, they seemed not to have fed me essentially. It was insignificant and unnecessary, and cost more than it came to. A little bread or a few potatoes would have done as well, with less trouble and filth.” Thoreau neither rejected civilization nor fully embraced wilderness. Instead he sought a middle ground, the pastoral realm that integrates both nature and culture. His philosophy required that he be a didactic arbitration between the wilderness he based so much on and the spreading mass of North American humanity. He decried the latter endlessly but felt the teachers need to be close to those who needed to hear what he wanted to tell them. The wildness he enjoyed was the nearby swamp or forest, and he preferred “partially cultivated country.” His idea of being “far in the recesses of the wilderness” of Maine was to “travel the logger’s path and the Indian trail”, but he also hiked on pristine untouched land. In the essay “Henry David Thoreau, Philosopher” Roderick Nash writes: "Thoreau left Concord in 1846 for the first of three trips to northern Maine. His expectations were high because he hoped to find genuine, primeval America. But contact with real wilderness in Maine affected him far differently than had the idea of wilderness in Concord. Instead of coming out of the woods with a deepened appreciation of the wilds, Thoreau felt a greater respect for civilization and realized the necessity of balance." On alcohol, Thoreau wrote: “I would fain keep sober always... I believe that water is the only drink for a wise man; wine is not so noble a liquor... Of all ebriosity, who does not prefer to be intoxicated by the air he breathes?” Sexuality Thoreau strove to portray himself as an ascetic puritan. However, his sexuality has long been the subject of speculation, including by his contemporaries. Critics have called him heterosexual, homosexual, or asexual. There is no evidence to suggest he had physical relations with anyone, man or woman. Some scholars suggest that homoerotic sentiments run through his writings, and conclude that he was homosexual. The elegy Sympathy was inspired by the eleven-year-old Edmund Sewell, with whom he hiked for five days in 1839. One scholar has suggested that he wrote the poem to Edmund because he could not bring himself to write it to Edmund’s sister, and another that Thoreau’s “emotional experiences with women are memorialized under a camouflage of masculine pronouns”, but other scholars dismiss this. It has argued that the long paean in Walden to the French-Canadian woodchopper Alek Therien, which includes allusions to Achilles and Patroclus, is an expression of conflicted desire. In some of Thoreau’s writing there is the sense of a secret self. In 1840 he writes in his journal: “My friend is the apology for my life. In him are the spaces which my orbit traverses”. Thoreau was strongly influenced by the moral reformers of his time, and this may have instilled anxiety and guilt over sexual desire. Politics Thoreau was fervently against slavery and actively supported the abolitionist movement. He participated in the Underground Railroad, delivered lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law, and in opposition with the popular opinion of the time, supported radical abolitionist militia leader John Brown and his party. Two weeks after the ill-fated raid on Harpers Ferry and in the weeks leading up to Brown’s execution, Thoreau regularly delivered a speech to the citizens of Concord, Massachusetts in which he compared the American government to Pontius Pilate and likened Brown’s execution to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ: “Some eighteen hundred years ago Christ was crucified; this morning, perchance, Captain Brown was hung. These are the two ends of a chain which is not without its links. He is not Old Brown any longer; he is an angel of light.” In The Last Days of John Brown, Thoreau described the words and deeds of John Brown as noble and an example of heroism. In addition, he lamented the newspaper editors who dismissed Brown and his scheme as “crazy”. Thoreau was a proponent of limited government and individualism. Although he was hopeful that mankind could potentially have, through self-betterment, the kind of government which “governs not at all”, he distanced himself from contemporary “no-government men” (anarchists), writing: “I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government.” Thoreau deemed the evolution from absolute monarchy to limited monarchy to democracy as “a progress toward true respect for the individual” and theorized about further improvements “towards recognizing and organizing the rights of man.” Echoing this belief, he went on to write: “There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.” Although Thoreau believed resistance to unjustly exercised authority could be both violent (exemplified in his support for John Brown) and nonviolent (his own example of tax resistance displayed in Resistance to Civil Government), he regarded pacifist nonresistance as temptation to passivity, writing: “Let not our Peace be proclaimed by the rust on our swords, or our inability to draw them from their scabbards; but let her at least have so much work on her hands as to keep those swords bright and sharp.” Furthermore, in a formal lyceum debate in 1841, he debated the subject “Is it ever proper to offer forcible resistance?”, arguing the affirmative. Likewise, his condemnation of the Mexican–American War did not stem from pacifism, but rather because he considered Mexico “unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army” as a means to expand the slave territory. Thoreau was ambivalent towards industrialization and capitalism. On one hand he regarded commerce as “unexpectedly confident and serene, adventurous, and unwearied” and expressed admiration for its associated cosmopolitanism, writing: I am refreshed and expanded when the freight train rattles past me, and I smell the stores which go dispensing their odors all the way from Long Wharf to Lake Champlain, reminding me of foreign parts, of coral reefs, and Indian oceans, and tropical climes, and the extent of the globe. I feel more like a citizen of the world at the sight of the palm-leaf which will cover so many flaxen New England heads the next summer. On the other hand, he wrote disparagingly of the factory system: I cannot believe that our factory system is the best mode by which men may get clothing. The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English; and it cannot be wondered at, since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that corporations may be enriched. Thoreau also favored bioregionalism, the protection of animals and wild areas, free trade, and taxation for schools and highways. He disapproved of the subjugation of Native Americans, slavery, technological utopianism, consumerism, philistinism, mass entertainment, and frivolous applications of technology. Intellectual interests, influences, and affinities Indian sacred texts and philosophy Thoreau was influenced by Indian spiritual thought. In Walden, there are many overt references to the sacred texts of India. For example, in the first chapter ("Economy"), he writes: “How much more admirable the Bhagvat-Geeta than all the ruins of the East!” American Philosophy: An Encyclopedia classes him as one of several figures who “took a more pantheist or pandeist approach by rejecting views of God as separate from the world”, also a characteristic of Hinduism. Furthermore, in “The Pond in Winter”, he equates Walden Pond with the sacred Ganges river, writing: In the morning I bathe my intellect in the stupendous and cosmogonal philosophy of the Bhagvat Geeta since whose composition years of the gods have elapsed, and in comparison with which our modern world and its literature seem puny and trivial; and I doubt if that philosophy is not to be referred to a previous state of existence, so remote is its sublimity from our conceptions. I lay down the book and go to my well for water, and lo! there I meet the servant of the Brahmin, priest of Brahmaand Vishnu and Indra, who still sits in his temple on the Ganges reading the Vedas, or dwells at the root of a tree with his crust and water jug. I meet his servant come to draw water for his master, and our buckets as it were grate together in the same well. The pure Walden water is mingled with the sacred water of the Ganges. Additionally, Thoreau followed various Hindu customs, including following a diet of rice ("It was fit that I should live on rice, mainly, who loved so well the philosophy of India."), flute playing (reminiscent of the favorite musical pastime of Krishna), and yoga. In an 1849 letter to his friend H.G.O. Blake, he wrote about yoga and its meaning to him: Free in this world as the birds in the air, disengaged from every kind of chains, those who practice yoga gather in Brahma the certain fruits of their works. Depend upon it that, rude and careless as I am, I would fain practice the yoga faithfully. The yogi, absorbed in contemplation, contributes in his degree to creation; he breathes a divine perfume, he hears wonderful things. Divine forms traverse him without tearing him, and united to the nature which is proper to him, he goes, he acts as animating original matter. To some extent, and at rare intervals, even I am a yogi. Biology Thoreau read contemporary works in the new science of biology, including the works of Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Darwin, and Asa Gray (Charles Darwin’s staunchest American ally). Thoreau was deeply influenced by Humboldt, especially his work Kosmos. In 1859, Thoreau purchased and read Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. Unlike many natural historians at the time, including Louis Agassiz who publicly opposed Darwinism in favor of a static view of nature, Thoreau was immediately enthusiastic about the theory of evolution by natural selection and endorsed it, stating: The development theory implies a greater vital force in Nature, because it is more flexible and accommodating, and equivalent to a sort of constant new creation. (A quote from On the Origin of Species follows this sentence.) Influence “Thoreau’s careful observations and devastating conclusions have rippled into time, becoming stronger as the weaknesses Thoreau noted have become more pronounced... Events that seem to be completely unrelated to his stay at Walden Pond have been influenced by it, including the national park system, the British labor movement, the creation of India, the civil rights movement, the hippie revolution, the environmental movement, and the wilderness movement. Today, Thoreau’s words are quoted with feeling by liberals, socialists, anarchists, libertarians, and conservatives alike.” Thoreau’s political writings had little impact during his lifetime, as "his contemporaries did not see him as a theorist or as a radical, viewing him instead as a naturalist. They either dismissed or ignored his political essays, including Civil Disobedience. The only two complete books (as opposed to essays) published in his lifetime, Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), both dealt with nature, in which he loved to wander." His obituary was lumped in with others rather than as a separate article in an 1862 yearbook. Nevertheless, Thoreau’s writings went on to influence many public figures. Political leaders and reformers like Mohandas Gandhi, U.S. President John F. Kennedy, American civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, and Russian author Leo Tolstoy all spoke of being strongly affected by Thoreau’s work, particularly Civil Disobedience, as did "right-wing theorist Frank Chodorov [who] devoted an entire issue of his monthly, Analysis, to an appreciation of Thoreau.” Thoreau also influenced many artists and authors including Edward Abbey, Willa Cather, Marcel Proust, William Butler Yeats, Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, E. B. White, Lewis Mumford, Frank Lloyd Wright, Alexander Posey and Gustav Stickley. Thoreau also influenced naturalists like John Burroughs, John Muir, E. O. Wilson, Edwin Way Teale, Joseph Wood Krutch, B. F. Skinner, David Brower and Loren Eiseley, whom Publishers Weekly called “the modern Thoreau.” English writer Henry Stephens Salt wrote a biography of Thoreau in 1890, which popularized Thoreau’s ideas in Britain: George Bernard Shaw, Edward Carpenter and Robert Blatchford were among those who became Thoreau enthusiasts as a result of Salt’s advocacy. Mohandas Gandhi first read Walden in 1906 while working as a civil rights activist in Johannesburg, South Africa. He first read Civil Disobedience “while he sat in a South African prison for the crime of nonviolently protesting discrimination against the Indian population in the Transvaal. The essay galvanized Gandhi, who wrote and published a synopsis of Thoreau’s argument, calling its 'incisive logic... unanswerable’ and referring to Thoreau as 'one of the greatest and most moral men America has produced’.” He told American reporter Webb Miller, "[Thoreau’s] ideas influenced me greatly. I adopted some of them and recommended the study of Thoreau to all of my friends who were helping me in the cause of Indian Independence. Why I actually took the name of my movement from Thoreau’s essay ‘On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,’ written about 80 years ago.” Martin Luther King, Jr. noted in his autobiography that his first encounter with the idea of nonviolent resistance was reading “On Civil Disobedience” in 1944 while attending Morehouse College. He wrote in his autobiography that it was, “Here, in this courageous New Englander’s refusal to pay his taxes and his choice of jail rather than support a war that would spread slavery’s territory into Mexico, I made my first contact with the theory of nonviolent resistance. Fascinated by the idea of refusing to cooperate with an evil system, I was so deeply moved that I reread the work several times. I became convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. No other person has been more eloquent and passionate in getting this idea across than Henry David Thoreau. As a result of his writings and personal witness, we are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest. The teachings of Thoreau came alive in our civil rights movement; indeed, they are more alive than ever before. Whether expressed in a sit-in at lunch counters, a freedom ride into Mississippi, a peaceful protest in Albany, Georgia, a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, these are outgrowths of Thoreau’s insistence that evil must be resisted and that no moral man can patiently adjust to injustice.” American psychologist B. F. Skinner wrote that he carried a copy of Thoreau’s Walden with him in his youth. and, in 1945, wrote Walden Two, a fictional utopia about 1,000 members of a community living together inspired by the life of Thoreau. Thoreau and his fellow Transcendentalists from Concord were a major inspiration of the composer Charles Ives. The 4th movement of the Concord Sonata for piano (with a part for flute, Thoreau’s instrument) is a character picture and he also set Thoreau’s words. In the early 1960s Allan Sherman referred to Thoreau in his song parody “Here’s To Crabgrass” about the suburban housing boom of that era with the line “Come let us go there and live like Thoreau there.” Actor Ron Thompson did a dramatic portrayal of Henry David Thoreau on the 1976 NBC television series The Rebels. Thoreau’s ideas have impacted and resonated with various strains in the anarchist movement, with Emma Goldman referring to him as “the greatest American anarchist.” Green anarchism and Anarcho-primitivism in particular have both derived inspiration and ecological points-of-view from the writings of Thoreau. John Zerzan included Thoreau’s text “Excursions” (1863) in his edited compilation of works in the anarcho-primitivist tradition titled Against civilization: Readings and reflections. Additionally, Murray Rothbard, the founder of anarcho-capitalism, has opined that Thoreau was one of the “great intellectual heroes” of his movement. Thoreau was also an important influence on late-19th-century anarchist naturism. Globally, Thoreau’s concepts also held importance within individualist anarchist circles in Spain, France, and Portugal. Criticism Although his writings would receive widespread acclaim, Thoreau’s ideas were not universally applauded. Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson judged Thoreau’s endorsement of living alone and apart from modern society in natural simplicity to be a mark of “unmanly” effeminacy and “womanish solitude”, while deeming him a self-indulgent “skulker.” Nathaniel Hawthorne was also critical of Thoreau, writing that he “repudiated all regular modes of getting a living, and seems inclined to lead a sort of Indian life among civilized men.” In a similar vein, poet John Greenleaf Whittier detested what he deemed to be the “wicked” and “heathenish” message of Walden, claiming that Thoreau wanted man to “lower himself to the level of a woodchuck and walk on four legs.” In response to such criticisms, English novelist George Eliot, writing for the Westminster Review, characterized such critics as uninspired and narrow-minded: People—very wise in their own eyes—who would have every man’s life ordered according to a particular pattern, and who are intolerant of every existence the utility of which is not palpable to them, may pooh-pooh Mr. Thoreau and this episode in his history, as unpractical and dreamy. Thoreau himself also responded to the criticism in a paragraph of his work “Walden” (1854), by illustrating the irrelevance of their inquiries: I should not obtrude my affairs so much on the notice of my readers if very particular inquiries had not been made by my townsmen concerning my mode of life, which some would call impertinent, though they do not appear to me at all impertinent, but, considering the circumstances, very natural and pertinent. Some have asked what I got to eat; if I did not feel lonesome; if I was not afraid; and the like. Others have been curious to learn what portion of my income I devoted to charitable purposes; and some, who have large families, how many poor children I maintained. [...] Unfortunately, I am confined to this theme by the narrowness of my experience. Moreover, I, on my side, require of every writer, first or last, a simple and sincere account of his own life, and not merely what he has heard of other men’s lives; [...] I trust that none will stretch the seams in putting on the coat, for it may do good service to him whom it fits. Recent criticism has accused Thoreau of hypocrisy, misanthropy and being sanctimonious, based on his writings in Walden, although this criticism has been perceived as highly selective. Works * Aulus Persius Flaccus (1840) * The Service (1840) * A Walk to Wachusett (1842) * Paradise (to be) Regained (1843) * The Landlord (1843) * Sir Walter Raleigh (1844) * Herald of Freedom (1844) * Wendell Phillips Before the Concord Lyceum (1845) * Reform and the Reformers (1846–48) * Thomas Carlyle and His Works (1847) * A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849) * Resistance to Civil Government, or Civil Disobedience, or On the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849) * An Excursion to Canada (1853) * Slavery in Massachusetts (1854) * Walden (1854) A Fully Annotated Edition. Jeffrey S. Cramer, ed., Yale University Press, 2004 * A Plea for Captain John Brown (1859) * Remarks After the Hanging of John Brown (1859) * The Last Days of John Brown (1860) * Walking (1861) * Autumnal Tints (1862) * Wild Apples: The History of the Apple Tree (1862) * The Fall of the Leaf (1863) * Excursions (1863) * Life Without Principle (1863) * Night and Moonlight (1863) * The Highland Light (1864) * The Maine Woods (1864) Fully Annotated Edition. Jeffrey S. Cramer, ed., Yale University Press, 2009 * Cape Cod (1865) * Letters to Various Persons (1865) * A Yankee in Canada, with Anti-Slavery and Reform Papers (1866) * Early Spring in Massachusetts (1881) * Summer (1884) * Winter (1888) * Autumn (1892) * Miscellanies (1894) * Familiar Letters of Henry David Thoreau (1894) * Poems of Nature (1895) * Some Unpublished Letters of Henry D. and Sophia E. Thoreau (1898) * The First and Last Journeys of Thoreau (1905) * Journal of Henry David Thoreau (1906) * The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau edited by Walter Harding and Carl Bode (Washington Square: New York University Press, 1958) * Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950) * I Was Made Erect and Lone * The Bluebird Carries the Sky on His Back (Stanyan, 1970) * The Dispersion of Seeds (1993) * The Indian Notebooks (1847-1861) selections by Richard F. Fleck References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_David_Thoreau

Allen Tate

John Orley Allen Tate (November 19, 1899– February 9, 1979) was an American poet, essayist, social commentator, and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1943 to 1944. Life Early years Tate was born near Winchester, Kentucky, to John Orley Tate, a businessman, and Eleanor Parke Custis Varnell. In 1916 and 1917 Tate studied the violin at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Vanderbilt University, Kenyon College and The Fugitives He began attending Vanderbilt University in 1918, where he met fellow poet Robert Penn Warren. Warren and Tate were invited to join an informal literary group of young Southern poets under the leadership of John Crowe Ransom; the group were known as the Fugitives. Tate contributed to the group’s magazine The Fugitive. The aim of the group, according to the critic J. A. Bryant, was "to demonstrate that a group of southerners could produce important work in the medium [of poetry], devoid of sentimentality and carefully crafted," and they wrote in the formalist tradition that valued the skillful use of meter and rhyme. Tate also joined Ransom to teach at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Some of his notable students there included the poets Robert Lowell and Randall Jarrell. Lowell’s early poetry was particularly influenced by Tate’s formalist brand of Modernism. 1920s In 1924, Tate moved to New York City where he met poet Hart Crane, with whom he had been exchanging correspondence for some time. Over a four-year period, he worked freelance for The Nation, contributed to the Hound & Horn, Poetry magazine, and others. To make ends meet, he worked as a janitor. (Some years later, he would also contribute articles to the conservative National Review.) During a summer visit with the poet Robert Penn Warren in Kentucky, he began a relationship with writer Caroline Gordon. The two lived together in Greenwich Village, but moved to “Robber Rocks”, a house in Patterson, New York, with friends Slater Brown and his wife Sue, Hart Crane, and Malcolm Cowley. Tate married Gordon in New York in May 1925. Their daughter Nancy was born in September. In 1928, along with others New York City friends, he went to Europe. In London, he visited with T. S. Eliot, whose poetry and criticism he greatly admired, and he also visited Paris. In 1928, Tate published his first book of poetry, Mr. Pope and Other Poems, which contained his most famous poem, “Ode to the Confederate Dead” (not to be confused with “Ode to the Confederate Dead at Magnolia Cemetery” by the Civil War poet Henry Timrod). That same year, Tate also published a biography Stonewall Jackson: The Good Soldier. Just before leaving for Europe in 1928, Tate described himself to John Gould Fletcher as “an enforced atheist”. He later told Fletcher, “I am an atheist, but a religious one—which means that there is no organization for my religion.” He regarded secular attempts to develop a system of thought for the modern world as misguided. “Only God,” he insisted, “can give the affair a genuine purpose.” In his essay “The Fallacy of Humanism” (1929), he criticized the New Humanists for creating a value system without investing it with any identifiable source of authority. “Religion is the only technique for the validation of values,” he wrote. Although he was attracted to Roman Catholicism, he deferred converting. Louis D. Rubin, Jr. observes that Tate may have waited “because he realized that for him at this time it would be only a strategy, an intellectual act”. In 1929, Tate published a second biography Jefferson Davis: His Rise and Fall. 1930s After two years abroad, he returned to the United States, and in 1930 was back in Tennessee. Here he took up residence in an antebellum mansion with an 85-acre estate attached, that had been bought for him by one of his brothers, “who had made a lot of northern money out of coal.” He resumed his senior position with the Fugitives. Along with fellow Fugitives, Warren and Ransom, as well as nine other Southern writers, Tate also joined the conservative political group known as the Southern Agrarians. The group was made up of 12 members who published essays on their political philosophy in the book I’ll Take My Stand published in 1930. Tate contributed the essay, “Remarks on the Southern Religion” to I’ll Take My Stand. This book was followed in 1938 by Who Owns America?, the Southern Agrarians’ response to The New Deal. During this time, Tate also became the de facto associate editor of The American Review, which was published and edited by Seward Collins. Tate believed The American Review could popularize the work of the Southern Agrarians. He objected to Collins’s open support of Fascists Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, and condemned fascism in an article in The New Republic in 1936. Much of Tate’s major volumes of poetry were published in the 1930s, and the scholar David Havird describes this publication history in poetry as follows: By 1937, when he published his first Selected Poems, Tate had written all of the shorter poems upon which his literary reputation came to rest. This collection—which brought together work from two recent volumes, Poems: 1928-1931 (1932) and the privately printed The Mediterranean and Other Poems (1936), as well as the early Mr. Pope—included “Mother and Son,” “Last Days of Alice,” “The Wolves,” “The Mediterranean,” “Aeneas at Washington,” “Sonnets at Christmas,” and the final version of “Ode to the Confederate Dead.” In 1938 Tate published his only novel, The Fathers, which drew upon knowledge of his mother’s ancestral home and family in Fairfax County, Virginia. 1940s Tate and Gordon were divorced in 1945 and remarried in 1946. Though devoted to one another for life, they could not get along and later divorced again. Tate was a poet-in-residence at Princeton University until 1942. He founded the Creative Writing program at Princeton, and mentored Richard Blackmur, John Berryman, and others. In 1942, Tate assisted novelist and friend Andrew Lytle in transforming The Sewanee Review, America’s oldest literary quarterly, from a modest journal into one of the most prestigious in the nation. Tate and Lytle had attended Vanderbilt together prior to collaborating at The University of the South. 1950s In 1950, Tate converted to Roman Catholicism. He also married the poet Isabella Gardner in the early 1950s. 1960s While teaching at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, he met Helen Heinz, a nun enrolled in one of his courses and began an affair with her. Tate divorced Gardner and married Heinz in 1966. They moved to Sewanee, Tennessee. In 1967, Tate became the father of twin sons. The youngest died at eleven months from an accident. A third son was born in 1969. Tate died in Nashville, Tennessee ten years later. His papers are collected at the Firestone Library at Princeton University. Attitudes on race Literary scholars have questioned the relationship between the cultural attitudes of Modernist poets on issue such as race and the writing produced by these poets. The decade of the 1930s saw Tate’s most notable stances on matters that may or may not be connected to literary craft. For example, though Tate spoke well of the work of fellow Modernist poet Langston Hughes, in 1931, Tate pressured his colleague Thomas Mabry into canceling a reception for Hughes, comparing the idea of socializing with the black poet to meeting socially with his black cook. From the 1930s until as late as the 1960s, Tate held prejudices against both African-Americans and Jews. He expressed views against interracial marriage and miscegenation and refused to associate with African-American writers (like the aforementioned Langston Hughes). Up until the 1960s, Tate also believed in white supremacy. In 1933, Tate wrote a letter for Hound & Horn explaining his views on interracial sex. “The negro race is an inferior race....miscegenation due to a white woman and a negro man” threatened the white family. “Our purpose..is to keep the negro blood from passing into the white race.” According to the critic Ian Hamilton, Tate and his co-agrarians had been more than ready at the time to overlook the anti-Semitism and pro-Hitlerism of the American Review in order to promote their 'spiritual’ defence of the Deep South’s traditions. In a 1934 review, “A View of the Whole South” Tate reviews W. T. Couch’s “Culture in The South: A Symposium by Thirty-one Authors” and defends racial hegemony: “I argue it this way: the white race seems determined to rule the Negro race in its midst; I belong to the white race; therefore I intend to support white rule. Lynching is a symptom of weak, inefficient rule; but you can’t destroy lynching by fiat or social agitation; lynching will disappear when the white race is satisfied that its supremacy will not be questioned in social crises.” According to the poetry editor of The New Criterion, David Yezzi, Tate held the conventional social views of a white Southerner in 1934: an “inherited racism, a Southern legacy rooted in place and time that Tate later renounced.” Tate was born of a Scotch-Irish lumber manager whose business failures required moving several times per year, Tate said of his upbringing ""we might as well have been living, and I been born, in a tavern at a crossroads." However, his views on race were not passively incorporated; Thomas Underwood documents Tate’s pursuit of racist ideology: “Tate also drew ideas from nineteenth-century proslavery theorists such as Thomas Roderick Dew, a professor at The College of William and Mary, and William Harper, of the University of South Carolina—”We must revive these men, he said.” Bibliography References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allen_Tate

Edward Thomas

Philip Edward Thomas (3 March 1878– 9 April 1917) was a British poet, essayist, and novelist. He is commonly considered a war poet, although few of his poems deal directly with his war experiences, and his career in poetry only came after he had already been a successful writer and literary critic. In 1915, he enlisted in the British Army to fight in the First World War and was killed in action during the Battle of Arras in 1917, soon after he arrived in France. Life and career Early life Thomas was born in Lambeth, London. He was educated at Battersea Grammar School, St Paul’s School in London and Lincoln College, Oxford. His family were mostly Welsh. In June 1899 he married Helen Berenice Noble (1878-1967), in Fulham, while still an undergraduate, and determined to live his life by the pen. He then worked as a book reviewer, reviewing up to 15 books every week. He was already a seasoned writer by the outbreak of war, having published widely as a literary critic and biographer as well writing on the countryside. He also wrote a novel, The Happy-Go-Lucky Morgans (1913), a “book of delightful disorder”. Thomas worked as literary critic for the Daily Chronicle in London and became a close friend of Welsh tramp poet W. H. Davies, whose career he almost single-handedly developed. From 1905, Thomas lived with his wife Helen and their family at Elses Farm near Sevenoaks, Kent. He rented to Davies a tiny cottage nearby, and nurtured his writing as best he could. On one occasion, Thomas even had to arrange for the manufacture, by a local wheelwright, of a makeshift wooden leg for Davies. Even though Thomas thought that poetry was the highest form of literature and regularly reviewed it, he only became a poet himself at the end of 1914 when living at Steep, East Hampshire, and initially published his poetry under the name Edward Eastaway. Frost in particular encouraged Thomas (then more famous as a critic) to write poetry, and their friendship was so close that the two planned to reside side by side in the United States. By August 1914, the village of Dymock in Gloucestershire had become the residence of a number of literary figures, including Lascelles Abercrombie, Wilfrid Gibson and American poet Robert Frost. Edward Thomas was a visitor at this time. Thomas immortalised the (now-abandoned) railway station at Adlestrop in a poem of that name after his train made a stop at the Cotswolds station on 24 June 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the First World War. War service Thomas enlisted in the Artists Rifles in July 1915, despite being a mature married man who could have avoided enlisting. He was unintentionally influenced in this decision by his friend Frost, who had returned to the U.S. but sent Thomas an advance copy of “The Road Not Taken”. The poem was intended by Frost as a gentle mocking of indecision, particularly the indecision that Thomas had shown on their many walks together; however, most audiences took the poem more seriously than Frost intended, and Thomas similarly took it seriously and personally, and it provided the last straw in Thomas’ decision to enlist. Thomas was promoted corporal, and in November 1916 was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery as a second lieutenant. He was killed in action soon after he arrived in France at Arras on Easter Monday, 9 April 1917. To spare the feelings of his widow Helen, she was told the fiction of a “bloodless death” i.e. that Thomas was killed by the concussive blast wave of one of the last shells fired as he stood to light his pipe and that there was no mark on his body. However, a letter from his commanding officer Franklin Lushington written in 1936 (and discovered many years later in an American archive) states that in reality the cause of Thomas’ death was due to being “shot clean through the chest”. W. H. Davies was devastated by the death and his commemorative poem “Killed In Action (Edward Thomas)” was included in Davies’s 1918 collection “Raptures”. Thomas is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery at Agny in France (Row C, Grave 43). Personal life Thomas was survived by his wife, Helen, their son Merfyn and their two daughters Bronwen and Myfanwy. After the war, Thomas’s widow, Helen, wrote about her courtship and early married life with Edward in the autobiography As it Was (1926); later she added a second volume, World Without End (1931). Myfanwy later said that the books had been written by her mother as a form of therapy to help lift herself from the deep depression into which she had fallen following Thomas’s death. Helen’s short memoir My Memory of W. H. Davies was published in 1973, after her own death. In 1988, Helen’s writings were gathered into a book published under the title Under Storm’s Wing, which included As It Was and World Without End as well as a selection of other short works by Helen and her daughter Myfanwy and six letters sent by Robert Frost to her husband. Commemorations Thomas is commemorated in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, by memorial windows in the churches at Steep and at Eastbury in Berkshire and with a blue plaque at 14 Lansdowne Gardens in Stockwell, south London, where he was born. There is also a plaque dedicated to him at 113 Cowley Road, Oxford, where he lodged before entering Lincoln College. East Hampshire District Council have created a “literary walk” at Shoulder of Mutton Hill in Steep dedicated to Thomas, which includes a memorial stone erected in 1935. The inscription includes the final line from one of his essays: “And I rose up and knew I was tired and I continued my journey.” As “Philip Edward Thomas poet-soldier” he is commemorated, alongside "Reginald Townsend Thomas actor-soldier died 1918", who is buried at the spot, and other family members, at the North East Surrey (Old Battersea) Cemetery. He is the subject of the biographical play The Dark Earth and the Light Sky by Nick Dear, which premiered at the Almeida Theatre, London in November 2012, with Pip Carter as Thomas and Hattie Morahan as his wife Helen. In February 2013 his poem “Words” was chosen as the poem of the week by Carol Rumens in The Guardian Poetry Thomas’s poems are noted for their attention to the English countryside and a certain colloquial style. The short poem In Memoriam exemplifies how his poetry blends the themes of war and the countryside. On 11 November 1985, Thomas was among 16 Great War poets commemorated on a slate stone unveiled in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner. The inscription, written by fellow poet Wilfred Owen, reads: “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.” Thomas was described by British Poet Laureate Ted Hughes as “the father of us all.” At least nineteen of his poems were set to music by the Gloucester composer Ivor Gurney. Selected works Poetry collections * Six Poems (under pseudonym Edward Eastaway) Pear Tree Press, 1916. * Poems, Holt, 1917, which included “The Sign-Post” * Last Poems, Selwyn & Blount, 1918. * Collected Poems, Selwyn & Blount, 1920. * Two Poems, Ingpen & Grant, 1927. * The Poems of Edward Thomas, ed. R. George Thomas, Oxford University Press, 1978. * Edward Thomas: A Mirror of England, ed. Elaine Wilson, Paul & Co., 1985. * Edward Thomas: Selected Poems, ed. Ian Hamilton, Bloomsbury, 1995. * The Poems of Edward Thomas, ed. Peter Sacks, Handsel Books, 2003. * The Annotated Collected Poems, ed. Edna Longley, Bloodaxe Books, 2008. Prose fiction * The Happy-Go-Lucky Morgans (novel), Duckworth, 1913. Prose * In Pursuit of Spring (travel) Thomas Nelson and Sons, April 1914 Essays and collections * Horae Solitariae, Dutton, 1902. * Oxford, A & C Black, 1903. * Beautiful Wales, Black, 1905. * The Heart of England, Dutton, 1906. * The South Country, Dutton, 1906 (reissued by Tuttle, 1993). * Rest and Unrest, Dutton, 1910. * Light and Twilight, Duckworth, 1911. * The Icknield Way, Constable, 1913. * The Last Sheaf, Jonathan Cape, 1928. References to Thomas by other writers * In 1918 W. H. Davies published his poem Killed In Action (Edward Thomas) to mark the personal loss of his close friend and mentor. * Many poems about Thomas by other poets can be found in the books Elected Friends: Poems For and About Edward Thomas, (1997, Enitharmon Press) edited by Anne Harvey, and Branch-Lines: Edward Thomas and Contemporary Poetry, (2007, Enitharmon Press) edited by Guy Cuthbertson and Lucy Newlyn. * Norman Douglas considered Thomas handicapped in life through lacking “a little touch of bestiality, a little je-m’en-fous-t-ism. He was too scrupulous”. * In his 1980 autobiography, Ways of Escape, Graham Greene references Thomas’s poem “The Other” (about a man who seems to be following his own double from hotel to hotel) in describing his own experience of being bedeviled by an imposter. * Edward Thomas’s Collected Poems was one of Andrew Motion’s ten picks for the poetry section of the “Guardian Essential Library” in October 2002. * In his 2002 novel Youth, J.M. Coetzee has his main character, intrigued by the survival of pre-modernist forms in British poetry, ask himself: “What happened to the ambitions of poets here in Britain? Have they not digested the news that Edward Thomas and his world are gone for ever?” In contrast, Irish critic Edna Longley writes that Thomas’s Lob, a 150-line poem, “strangely preempts The Waste Land through verses like: ”This is tall Tom that bore / The logs in, and with Shakespeare in the hall / Once talked". * In his 1995 novel, Borrowed Time, the author Robert Goddard bases the home of the main character at Greenhayes in the village of Steep, where Thomas lived from 1913. Goddard weaves some of the feeling from Thomas’s poems into the mood of the story and also uses some quotes from Thomas’s works. * Will Self’s 2006 novel, The Book of Dave, has a quote from The South Country as the book’s epigraph: “I like to think how easily Nature will absorb London as she absorbed the mastodon, setting her spiders to spin the winding sheet and her worms to fill in the graves, and her grass to cover it pitifully up, adding flowers—as an unknown hand added them to the grave of Nero.” * The children’s author Linda Newbery has published a novel, “Lob” (David Fickling Books, 2010, illustrated by Pam Smy) inspired by the Edward Thomas’ poem of the same name and containing oblique references to other work by him. * Woolly Wolstenholme, formerly of UK rock band Barclay James Harvest, has used a humorous variation of Thomas’ poem Adlestrop on the first song of his 2004 live album, Fiddling Meanly, where he imagines himself in a retirement home and remembers “the name” of the location where the album was recorded. The poem was read at Wolstenholme’s funeral on 19 January 2011. * Stuart Maconie in his book Adventures On The High Teas mentions Thomas and his poem “Adlestrop”. Maconie visits the now abandoned and overgrown station which was closed by Beeching in 1966. * Robert MacFarlane, in his 2012 book The Old Ways, critiques Thomas and his poetry in the context of his own explorations of paths and walking as an analogue of human consciousness. * In his 2012 novel Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan has a character invoke Thomas’s poem “Adlestrop,” as a “sweet, old-fashioned thing” and an example of “the sense of pure existence, of being suspended in space and time, a time before a cataclysmic war.” * The last years of Thomas’s life are explored in A Conscious Englishman, a 2013 biographical novel by Margaret Keeping, published by StreetBooks. * Pat Barker’s 1995 WW1 novel, The Ghost Road, Booker Prize winner and the third novel of her Regeneration Trilogy, has as its opening epigraph 4 lines from 'Roads’. * 'Now all roads lead to France/ And heavy is the tread/ Of the living; but the dead/ Returning lightly dance:’ References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Thomas_(poet)

Ann Taylor

Ann Taylor (30 January 1782– 20 December 1866) was an English poet and literary critic. In her youth she was a writer of verse for children, for which she achieved long-lasting popularity. In the years immediately preceding her marriage, she became an astringent literary critic of growing reputation. She is, however, best remembered as the elder sister and collaborator of Jane Taylor. The literary family The Taylor sisters were part of an extensive literary family, daughters of Isaac Taylor of Ongar. Ann was born in Islington and lived with her family at first in London and later in Lavenham in Suffolk, in Colchester and, briefly, in Ongar. The sisters’ father, Isaac Taylor, was, like his own father, an engraver. He later became an educational pioneer and Independent minister and wrote a number of instructional books for the young. Their mother, Mrs (Ann Martin) Taylor (1757–1830) wrote seven works of moral and religious advice– in many respects liberal for their time– two of them fictionalized. Ann and Jane’s brothers, Isaac and Jefferys, also wrote, the former being a theologian, but also the inventor of a patent beer tap. The elder brother Charles Taylor edited The Literary Panorama, for which he wrote on topics from art to politics, and produced, anonymously, a massive annotated translation of Augustin Calmet’s Dictionary of the Bible. His younger brother Josiah was a publisher, chiefly of works on architecture and design. Authorship The sisters and their authorship of various works have often been confused, usually to Jane’s advantage. This is in part because their early works for children were published together and without attribution, but also because Jane, by dying young at the height of her powers, unwittingly attracted early posthumous eulogies, including what is almost a hagiography by her brother Isaac, and much of Ann’s work came to be ascribed to Jane, a borrowing which, Ann ruefully remarked, she could ill afford and which Jane certainly did not require. It is true that Jane achieved much more than Ann as a writer of poetry for an adult readership– though Ann’s poem “The Maniac’s Song”, published in the Associate Minstrels (1810), was probably the finest short poem by either sister, and it has even been postulated that it was an inspiration for Keats’s La Belle Dame sans Merci (Lynette Felber: Ann Taylor’s “The Maniac’s Song”: an unacknowledged source for Keats’s “La Belle Dame sans Merci”. However, Ann also deserves to be remembered as a writer of prose, as evinced particularly by her autobiography and by the many letters of hers that survive. Her style is strong and vivid and, when she is not too preoccupied with moral and religious themes– like her sister Jane, she tended to pessimism about her own spiritual worth– it is often shot through with a pleasing and sometimes acerbic wit. The autobiography also provides much detailed and fascinating information about the life of a moderately prosperous dissenting family in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Appreciations Ann Taylor’s son, Josiah Gilbert, wrote: “Two little poems– 'My Mother’, and 'The Star’, are perhaps, more frequently quoted than any. The first, a lyric of life, was by Ann, the second, of nature, by Jane; and they illustrate this difference between the sisters.” Both poems attracted the compliment of frequent parody throughout the 19th century. The logician Augustus De Morgan asserted (somewhat extravagantly) that Gilbert’s mother wrote “one of the most beautiful lyrics in the English language, or any other language” and not knowing that Ann Gilbert was still alive, called upon Tennyson to supply a less heterodox version of the final stanza, which seemed to de Morgan unworthy of the rest. Original Poems for Infant Minds by several young persons (by Ann and Jane and others) was first issued in two volumes in 1804 and 1805. Rhymes for the Nursery followed in 1806, and Hymns for Infant Minds in 1808. In Original Poems for Infant Minds the authors were identified for each poem. In Rhymes for the Nursery (1806) poems were not identified by author. Attributions for the sisters’ poems can be found in an exceptional Taylor resource: The Taylors of Ongar: An Analytical Bio-Bibliography by Christina Duff Stewart. Stewart cites a copy of Rhymes for the Nursery belonging to a nephew, Canon Isaac Taylor, annotated to indicate the respective authorship of Ann and Jane. Stewart also confirms attributions of Original Poems based on publisher’s records. Marriage and widowhood On 24 December 1813, Ann married Joseph Gilbert, an Independent (later Congregational) minister and theologian, and left Ongar to make a new home far from her family, at Masborough near Rotherham. A widower of thirty-three, Gilbert had proposed to Ann before he had even met her, forming a sound estimation of her character and intelligence from her writings, particularly as a trenchant critic in The Eclectic Review. Gilbert was, at the time of their marriage, the classical tutor at Rotherham Independent College– the nearest thing to a university open to dissenters at this time– and simultaneously pastor of the Nether Chapel in Sheffield. In 1817, he moved to the pastorate of the Fish Street Chapel in Hull and then, in 1825, to Nottingham, serving in chapels in the city for the rest of his life. Kept busy with the duties of wife and later mother, Ann Gilbert still managed to write poems, hymns, essays, and letters. Her interest in public matters, such as atheism, prison reform, and the anti-slavery movement, often spurred her to take up her pen, and the results of those scattered moments found a way into print. Oddly for one of such independence of mind and strongly held and usually liberal opinions, she was firmly opposed to female suffrage. After Gilbert died on 12 December 1852, Ann found time to write a short memoir of her husband. Nor did she spend the rest of her long life in gentle retirement. As well as actively supporting the members of her large family, through visits and a constant stream of letters– family was always of central concern to the Taylors– she travelled widely in many parts of Britain, taking in her stride as an old lady travelling conditions that might have daunted one much younger. She died on 20 December 1866 and was buried next to her husband in Nottingham General Cemetery, although the inscription recording this on the vast Gothic sarcophagus has disappeared. References Wikipedia—https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Taylor_(poet)

J. R. R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, 3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor who is best known as the author of the classic high-fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. He served as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford from 1945 to 1959.[1] He was at one time a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972. After Tolkien's death, his son Christopher published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda, and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings. While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien,[3] the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the "father" of modern fantasy literature—or, more precisely, of high fantasy. In 2008, The Times ranked him sixth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". Forbes ranked him the 5th top-earning "dead celebrity" in 2009. Family origins Tolkien's paternal ancestors were middle-class craftsmen who made and sold clocks, watches and pianos in London and Birmingham. The Tolkien family had emigrated from Germany in the 18th century but had become "quickly intensely English". Stories told by his aunt, Grace Tolkien, claimed a relation with the House of Hohenzollern. "More prosaic" members of the family said that the Tolkiens had arrived in England in 1756, as refugees from Frederick the Great's invasion of the Electorate of Saxony during the Seven Years' War. Tolkien derived his surname from the German word tollkühn, meaning "foolhardy". Several families with the surname Tolkien or other spelling variants live in northwestern Germany, mainly in Lower Saxony and Hamburg. A German writer has suggested that the name is more likely to derive from the village Tolkynen, near Rastenburg, East Prussia (now in north-eastern Poland), although that village is far from Lower Saxony; its name is derived from the now-extinct Old Prussian language. Childhood John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (now Free State Province in South Africa) to Arthur Reuel Tolkien (1857–1896), an English bank manager, and his wife Mabel, née Suffield (1870–1904). The couple had left England when Arthur was promoted to head the Bloemfontein office of the British bank for which he worked. Tolkien had one sibling, his younger brother, Hilary Arthur Reuel, who was born on 17 February 1894. As a child, he was bitten by a large baboon spider in the garden, an event some think later echoed in his stories, although Tolkien admitted no actual memory of the event and no special hatred of spiders as an adult. In another incident, a young family servant, who thought Tolkien a beautiful child, took the baby to his kraal to show him off, returning him the next morning. When he was three, he went to England with his mother and brother on what was intended to be a lengthy family visit. His father, however, died in South Africa of rheumatic fever before he could join them. This left the family without an income, so Tolkien's mother took him to live with her parents in Kings Heath, Birmingham. Soon after, in 1896, they moved to Sarehole (now in Hall Green), then a Worcestershire village, later annexed to Birmingham. He enjoyed exploring Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog and the Clent, Lickey and Malvern Hills, which would later inspire scenes in his books, along with nearby towns and villages such as Bromsgrove, Alcester, and Alvechurch and places such as his aunt Jane's farm of Bag End, the name of which he used in his fiction. Mabel Tolkien taught her two children at home. Ronald, as he was known in the family, was a keen pupil. She taught him a great deal of botany and awakened in him the enjoyment of the look and feel of plants. Young Tolkien liked to draw landscapes and trees, but his favourite lessons were those concerning languages, and his mother taught him the rudiments of Latin very early. He could read by the age of four and could write fluently soon afterwards. His mother allowed him to read many books. He disliked Treasure Island and The Pied Piper and thought Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was "amusing but disturbing". He liked stories about "Red Indians" and the fantasy works by George MacDonald. In addition, the "Fairy Books" of Andrew Lang were particularly important to him and their influence is apparent in some of his later writings. Mabel Tolkien was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1900 despite vehement protests by her Baptist family, which stopped all financial assistance to her. In 1904, when J.R.R. Tolkien was 12, his mother died of acute diabetes at Fern Cottage in Rednal, which she was renting. She was then about 34 years of age, about as old as a person with diabetes mellitus type 1 could live without treatment — insulin would not be discovered until two decades later. Nine years after her death, Tolkien wrote, "My own dear mother was a martyr indeed, and it is not to everybody that God grants so easy a way to his great gifts as he did to Hilary and myself, giving us a mother who killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith." Prior to her death, Mabel Tolkien had assigned the guardianship of her sons to her close friend, Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory, who was assigned to bring them up as good Catholics. In a 1965 letter to his son Michael, Tolkien recalled the influence of the man whom he always called "Father Francis" : "He was an upper-class Welsh-Spaniard Tory, and seemed to some just a pottering old gossip. He was—and he was not. I first learned charity and forgiveness from him; and in the light of it pierced even the 'liberal' darkness out of which I came, knowing more [i.e. Tolkien having grown up knowing more] about 'Bloody Mary' than the Mother of Jesus—who was never mentioned except as an object of wicked worship by the Romanists." After his mother's death, Tolkien grew up in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham and attended King Edward's School, Birmingham, and later St. Philip's School. In 1903, he won a Foundation Scholarship and returned to King Edward's. While a pupil there, Tolkien was one of the cadets from the school's Officers Training Corps who helped "line the route" for the 1910 coronation parade of King George V. Like the other cadets from King Edward's, Tolkien was posted just outside the gates of Buckingham Palace. In Edgbaston, Tolkien lived there in the shadow of Perrott's Folly and the Victorian tower of Edgbaston Waterworks, which may have influenced the images of the dark towers within his works.[31][32] Another strong influence was the romantic medievalist paintings of Edward Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery had a large collection of works on public display. Youth While in his early teens, Tolkien had his first encounter with a constructed language, Animalic, an invention of his cousins, Mary and Marjorie Incledon. At that time, he was studying Latin and Anglo-Saxon. Interest in the language soon died away, but Mary and others, including Tolkien himself, invented a new and more complex language called Nevbosh. The next constructed language he came to work with, Naffarin, would be his own creation. In 1911, while they were at King Edward's School, Birmingham, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Bache Smith and Christopher Wiseman, formed a semi-secret society they called the T.C.B.S. The initials stood for Tea Club and Barrovian Society, alluding to their fondness for drinking tea in Barrow's Stores near the school and, secretly, in the school library. After leaving school, the members stayed in touch and, in December 1914, they held a "council" in London at Wiseman's home. For Tolkien, the result of this meeting was a strong dedication to writing poetry. In 1911, Tolkien went on a summer holiday in Switzerland, a trip that he recollects vividly in a 1968 letter, noting that Bilbo's journey across the Misty Mountains ("including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods") is directly based on his adventures as their party of 12 hiked from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and on to camp in the moraines beyond Mürren. Fifty-seven years later, Tolkien remembered his regret at leaving the view of the eternal snows of Jungfrau and Silberhorn ("the Silvertine (Celebdil) of my dreams"). They went across the Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald and on across the Grosse Scheidegg to Meiringen. They continued across the Grimsel Pass, through the upper Valais to Brig and on to the Aletsch glacier and Zermatt. In October of the same year, Tolkien began studying at Exeter College, Oxford. He initially studied Classics but changed his course in 1913 to English Language and Literature, graduating in 1915 with first-class honours in his final examinations. Family The Tolkiens had four children: John Francis Reuel Tolkien (17 November 1917 – 22 January 2003), Michael Hilary Reuel Tolkien (22 October 1920 – 27 February 1984), Christopher John Reuel Tolkien (born 21 November 1924) and Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel Tolkien (born 18 June 1929). Tolkien was very devoted to his children and sent them illustrated letters from Father Christmas when they were young. Each year more characters were added, such as the North Polar Bear (Father Christmas's helper), the Snow Man (his gardener), Ilbereth the elf (his secretary), and various other, minor characters. The major characters would relate tales of Father Christmas's battles against goblins who rode on bats and the various pranks committed by the North Polar Bear. References Wikipedia—http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._R._R._Tolkien




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