Father of the Man

Coventry Patmore was born at Woodford in Essex on July 23rd, 1823. It is believed that he acquired the name of Coventry from a godmother, the Hon. Mrs. Coventry. It proved an appropriate one, for there was a stage in his life when it might well have been a nickname, as his isolation was such that he had the appearance of being "sent to Coventry" in the republic of letters, a tribute to that independedce of character which was always his outstanding quality.

The custom of naming a child after-a godparent was one that he retained for his own children, calling the eldest Milnes after Richard Monckton Milnes, and the next Tennyson after the poet. It is a custom which avoids the vagaries of fashion, but not those of friendship, and the second Child long survived the intimacy between Patmore and Tennyson.

The unknown godmother, the Hon. Mrs. Coventry, also provides an introduction to Coventry's father, Peter George Patmore, a man to value such connections with the lesser titles of the aristocracy while respecting and cultivating higher values in the literature of his age. He was the sort of person, common then and not wholly vanished today, who, genuinely devoted to the arts, finds them even more attractive when they open the doors of fashion and confer a certain status in society. A dandy, received by Lady Blessington, he was preserved from the more ordinary forms of


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