Robert Southey (August 12, 1774 - March 21, 1843)
Born: 12th August, 1774
Died: 21st March, 1843
Nationality: English
Profession/Occupation: Poet
Region: Bristol, England, Keswick
Notable works: poet laureate

Robert Southey Facts

Biography

Robert Southey, (born Aug. 12, 1774, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Eng.--died March 21, 1843, Keswick, Cumberland), English poet and writer of miscellaneous prose who is chiefly remembered for his association with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth, both of whom were leaders of the early Romantic movement.

The son of a linen draper, Southey spent much of his childhood at Bath in the care of his aunt, Elizabeth Tyler. Educated at Westminster School and Balliol College, Oxford, Southey expressed his ardent sympathy for the French Revolution in the long poem Joan of Arc (published 1796). He first met Coleridge, who shared his views, in 1794, and together they wrote a verse drama, The Fall of Robespierre (1794). After leaving Oxford without a degree, Southey planned to carry out Coleridge's project for a pantisocracy, or utopian agricultural community, to be located on the banks of the Susquehanna River, in the United States. But his interest in pantisocracy faded, causing a temporary breach with Coleridge.

In 1795 he secretly married Edith Fricker, whose sister, Sara, Coleridge was soon to marry. That same year he went to Portugal with his uncle, who was the British chaplain in Lisbon. While in Portugal he wrote the letters published as Letters Written During a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal (1797), studied the literature of those two countries, and learned to "thank God [he was] an Englishman." So began the change from revolutionary to Tory.

In 1797 he began to receive an annuity of GBP160 that was paid to him for nine years by an old Westminster school friend, Charles Wynn, and in 1797-99 he published a second volume of his Poems. In these years he composed many of his best short poems and ballads and became a regular contributor to newspapers and reviews. Southey also did translations, edited the works of Thomas Chatterton, completed the epic Thalaba the Destroyer (1801), and worked on the epic poem Madoc (1805).

In 1803 the Southeys visited the Coleridges, then living at Greta Hall, Keswick. The Southeys remained at Greta Hall for life, partly so that Sara and Edith could be together. Southey's friendship with Wordsworth, then at nearby Grasmere, dates from this time. The Southeys had seven children of their own, and, after Coleridge left his family for Malta, the whole household was economically dependent on Southey. He was forced to produce unremittingly--poetry, criticism, history, biography, journalism, translations, and editions of earlier writers. During 1809-38 he wrote, for the Tory Quarterly Review, 95 political articles, for each of which he received GBP100. Of most interest today are those articles urging the state provision of "social services." He also worked on a projected history of Portugal that he was destined never to finish; only his History of Brazil, 3 vol. (1810-19), was published. His edition (1817) of Sir Thomas Malory's 15th-century Le Morte Darthur played an important part in generating renewed interest in the Middle Ages during the 19th century.

In 1813 Southey was appointed poet laureate through the influence of Sir Walter Scott. But the unauthorized publication (1817) of Wat Tyler, an early verse drama reflecting his youthful political opinions, enabled his enemies to remind the public of his youthful republicanism. About this time he became involved in a literary imbroglio with Lord Byron. Byron had already attacked Southey in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers (1809) and had dedicated to him (1819) the first cantos of Don Juan, a satire on hypocrisy. In his introduction to A Vision of Judgement (1821), Southey continued the quarrel by denouncing Byron as belonging to a "Satanic school" of poetry, and Byron replied by producing a masterful parody of Southey's own poem under the title The Vision of Judgment (1822). The historian Thomas Macaulay unleashed a similarly devastating riposte to Southey's Sir Thomas More; or, Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society (1829), a major statement of 19th-century political medievalism. Southey's last years were clouded by his wife's insanity, by family quarrels resulting from his second marriage after her death (1837), and by his own failing mental and physical health.

Except for a few lyrics, ballads, and comic-grotesque poems--such as "My days among the Dead are past," "After Blenheim," and "The Inchcape Rock"--Southey's poetry is little read today, though his "English Eclogues" (1799) anticipate Alfred Tennyson's "English Idyls" as lucid, relaxed, and observant verse accounts of contemporary life. His prose style, however, has been long regarded as masterly in its ease and clarity. These qualities are best seen in his Life of Nelson (1813), still a classic; in the Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (1820); in the lively Letters from England: By Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella, the observations of a fictitious Spaniard (1807); and in the anonymously published The Doctor, 7 vol. (1834-47), a rambling miscellany packed with comment, quotations, and anecdotes (including the well-known children's classic "The Story of the Three Bears"). His less successful epic poems are verse romances having a mythological or legendary subject matter set in the past and in distant places. In his prose works and in his voluminous correspondence, which gives a detailed picture of his literary surroundings and friends, Southey's effortless mastery of prose is clearly evident, a fact attested to by such eminent contemporaries as William Hazlitt and Scott and even by such an enemy as Byron.

Robert Southey essays

Read more informative topics on our blog
Her Eyre as Feminist Role Model for a lot of Women Dissertation
Jane Eyre since Feminist Function Model for all WomenIn 1837 essenti Robert Southey wrote to Charlotte Bronte, "Literaturecannot be the business of the woman's lifestyle, and that ought to never be. The moreshe's engaged in her proper duties, the fewer leisure is going to she have got for itwhilst an accomplishment and a fun, " (Gaskell 102). This viewwas not kept by merely one person, yet by many. Indeed, it truly is this frame of mindone that debases women and their abilities, where Charlotte Bronteresponds with Jane Eyre. The objective of Jane Eyre, not only the novel,..
Subscribe to our updates
79 345 subscribers already with us

Related authors

Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi
Ferdowsi, also spelled Firdawsi, Firdusi, or Firdousi, pseudonym of Abu al-Qasem Mansur, (born..
Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau, (born July 5, 1889, Maisons-Laffitte, near Paris, France--died October 11, 1963,..
Stanislaw Lem
Stanislaw Lem
Stanislaw Lem, (born September 12, 1921, Lwow, Poland [now Lviv, Ukraine]--died March 27, 2006,..
Michael Ignatieff
Michael Ignatieff
Michael Ignatieff, in full Michael Grant Ignatieff, (born May 12, 1947, Toronto, Ont., Can.), Canadian..
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, in full Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., (born November 11, 1922, Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.--died..
Poliziano
Poliziano
Poliziano, byname of Angelo Ambrogini, (born July 14, 1454, Montepulciano, Tuscany [Italy]--died..
Joshua Logan
Joshua Logan
Joshua Logan, in full Joshua Lockwood Logan III, (born October 5, 1908, Texarkana, Texas, U.S.--died..
Ethan Hawke
Ethan Hawke
Ethan Hawke, in full Ethan Green Hawke, (born November 6, 1970, Austin, Texas, U.S.), American actor,..
Johann Winckelmann
Johann Winckelmann
Johann Winckelmann, (born Dec. 9, 1717, Stendal, Prussia--died June 8, 1768, Trieste), German..
Max Muller
Max Muller
Max Muller, in full Friedrich Max Muller, (born Dec. 6, 1823, Dessau, duchy of Anhalt [Germany]--died..
John Adams
John Adams
John Adams, in full John Coolidge Adams, (born Feb. 15, 1947, Worcester, Mass., U.S.), American..
Bette Midler
Bette Midler
Bette Midler, in full Bette Davis Midler, byname The Divine Miss M, (born December 1, 1945, Honolulu,..
J.P. Morgan
J.P. Morgan
J.P. Morgan, in full John Pierpont Morgan, (born April 17, 1837, Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.--died..
Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle, in full Sir Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, (born May 22, 1859, Edinburgh, Scotland--died..
Elaine de Kooning
Elaine de Kooning
Elaine de Kooning, neeElaine Marie Catherine Fried, (born March 12, 1920, New York, N.Y., U.S.--died..
Steve Martin
Steve Martin
Steve Martin, (born August 14, 1945, Waco, Texas, U.S.), American comedian, writer, and producer..
Aleksey Stepanovich Khomyakov
Aleksey Stepanovich Khomyakov
Aleksey Stepanovich Khomyakov, (born May 1 [May 13, New Style], 1804, Moscow, Russia--died Sept...
Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry
Tyler Perry, original name Emmitt Perry, Jr., (born September 13, 1969, New Orleans, Louisiana,..
Georges Duby
Georges Duby
Georges Duby, in full Georges Michel Claude Duby, (born October 7, 1919, Paris, France--died December..
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, (born March 6, 1927, Aracataca, Colombia--died April 17, 2014, Mexico..