William Ernest Henley (August 23, 1849 - July 11, 1903)
Born: 23rd August, 1849
Died: 11th July, 1903
Nationality: English
Profession/Occupation: Poet
Region: Gloucester, England
Notable works: "Invictus", "National Observer"

William Ernest Henley Facts

Biography

William Ernest Henley, (born Aug. 23, 1849, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, Eng.--died July 11, 1903, Woking, near London), British poet, critic, and editor who in his journals introduced the early work of many of the great English writers of the 1890s.

Son of a Gloucester bookseller and a pupil of the poet T.E. Brown, Henley contracted a tubercular disease that later necessitated the amputation of one foot. His other leg was saved only through the skill and radical new methods of the surgeon Joseph Lister, whom he sought out in Edinburgh. Forced to stay in an infirmary in Edinburgh for 20 months (1873-75), he began writing impressionistic poems (some in free verse) about hospital life that established his poetic reputation. Some of these were published in The Cornhill Magazine in 1875; the whole sequence appeared in A Book of Verses (1888). Dating from the same period is his most popular poem, "Invictus" (1875), which concludes with the lines "I am the master of my fate; / I am the captain of my soul." Subsequent volumes of verse include London Voluntaries (1893), Poems (1898), Hawthorn and Lavender (1899), and For England's Sake (1900).

Henley's long, close friendship with Robert Louis Stevenson began in 1874 when he was still a patient, and Stevenson based part of the character of Long John Silver in Treasure Island on his crippled, hearty friend.

Restored to active life, Henley edited The Magazine of Art (1882-86), in which he championed the artists James McNeill Whistler and Auguste Rodin, and worked on the Encyclopaedia Britannica. He became editor of the Scots Observer of Edinburgh in 1889. The journal was transferred to London in 1891 and became the National Observer. Though conservative in its political outlook, it was liberal in its literary taste and published the work of Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, James Barrie, William Butler Yeats, and Rudyard Kipling. As an editor and critic, Henley was remembered by young writers as a benevolent bully, generous in his promotion and encouragement of unknown talents and fierce in his attacks on unmerited reputations. The "hearty," realist, and imperialist writers particularly associated with Henley in the 1890s--sometimes known as the "Henley regatta"--were seen as an alternative to the Decadent writers of the period.

Top 13 William Ernest Henley quotes

It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll; I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
Am
Captain
Charged
Fate
Gate
How
I am
Master
Matters
My soul
Punishments
Soul
Strait
In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud: Under the bludgeoning of chance my head is bloody, but unbowed.
Aloud
Bloody
Chance
Circumstance
Clutch
Cried
Fell
Head
Nor
The life of Dumas is not only a monument of endeavour and success, it is a sort of labyrinth as well. It abounds in pseudonyms and disguises, in sudden and unexpected appearances and retreats as unexpected and sudden, in scandals and in rumours, in mysteries and traps and ambuscades of every kind.
Abound
Appearances
Endeavour
Every
Kind
Labyrinth
Life
Monument
Mysteries
Only
Rumours
Scandals
Sort
Success
This is the merit and distinction of art: to be more real than reality, to be not nature but nature's essence.
Art
Distinction
Essence
Merit
More
Nature
Real
Reality
Than
It is the artist's function not to copy but to synthesise: to eliminate from that gross confusion of actuality which is his raw material whatever is accidental, idle, irrelevant, and select for perpetuation that only which is appropriate and immortal.
Accidental
Appropriate
Artist
Confusion
Copy
Eliminate
Function
Gross
His
Idle
Immortal
Irrelevant
Material
Only
To be a good Briton, a man must trade profitably, marry respectably, live cleanly, avoid excess, revere the established order, and wear his heart in his breeches pocket or anywhere but on his sleeve.
Anywhere
Avoid
Established
Excess
Good
Heart
His
Live
Man
Marry
Must
Order
Pocket
Revere
Shakespeare and Rembrandt have in common the faculty of quickening speculation and compelling the minds of men to combat and discussion.
Combat
Common
Compelling
Discussion
Faculty
Men
Minds
Rembrandt
Shakespeare
Speculation
Shakespeare often writes so ill that you hesitate to believe he could ever write supremely well; or, if this way of putting it seem indecorous and abominable, he very often writes so well that you are loth to believe he could ever have written thus extremely ill.
Believe
Could
Ever
Extremely
He
Hesitate
Ill
Often
Putting
Seem
Shakespeare
Supremely
Thus
Very
Balzac's ambition was to be omnipotent. He would be Michelangelesque, and that by sheer force of minuteness. He exaggerated scientifically, and made things gigantic by a microscopic fulness of detail.
Ambition
Detail
Exaggerated
Force
Gigantic
He
Made
Omnipotent
Scientifically
Sheer
Things
Would
Would-be
Men there have been who have done the essayist's part so well as to have earned an immortality in the doing; but we have had not many of them, and they make but a poor figure on our shelves. It is a pity that things should be thus with us, for a good essayist is the pleasantest companion imaginable.
Been
Companion
Doing
Done
Earned
Figure
Good
Had
Imaginable
Immortality
Make
Many
Men
Our
Essayists, like poets, are born and not made, and for one worth remembering, the world is confronted with a hundred not worth reading. Your true essayist is, in a literary sense, the friend of everybody.
Born
Confronted
Everybody
Friend
Hundred
Like
Literary
Made
Poets
Reading
Remembering
Sense
True
World
There are two men in Tolstoy. He is a mystic and he is also a realist. He is addicted to the practice of a pietism that for all its sincerity is nothing if not vague and sentimental; and he is the most acute and dispassionate of observers, the most profound and earnest student of character and emotion.
Acute
Addicted
Also
Character
Dispassionate
Earnest
Emotion
He
Men
Most
Mystic
Nothing
Observers
Practice
Now, to read poetry at all is to have an ideal anthology of one's own, and in that possession to be incapable of content with the anthologies of all the world besides.
All the world
Besides
Content
Ideal
Incapable
Now
Own
Poetry
Possession
Read
World

William Ernest Henley essays

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