The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO The Beginning

TURNING to the back pages of the old Family Bible, I find that the story of my family begins under the shadow of St. Paul's. At the end of this worn-out and much-read Bible, where all the births, marriages and deaths of the Patmore family are recorded, the following event is noted down in the fine writing of the eighteenth century:

Maria Clarissa Stevens married Peter Patmore on the 21st August 1783 [her birthday] at St. Laurence Jury.

There is no record of Peter Patmore's parentage, although it is thought that the family originally came to London from a village of this name in Hertfordshire. His wife was the daughter of John Stevens and Maria Beackman. Maria Beackman was the sister of a German painter, some of whose work hangs in Hampton Court. Family tradition says that he had been a painter at the Court of Frederick the Great.

There is little record of their only son, Peter George Patmore's early life. His childhood appears to have been easy and untroubled. He grew up in a cultured and comfortable middle- class home, and as he was the only child, he was rather spoilt by his parents.

His mother, who was half-German and half-English, was an exceptional woman. She apparently possessed amazing energy, and she was keenly interested in the arts. She painted a little, and was an expert needlewoman. She dominated the lives of both her husband and her only son; and she lived for almost a century, witnessing in her lifetime the passing of the old order and the transformation of English life by the Industrial Revolution. Undoubtedly a woman of force and ambition, she saw her son make his entry into that exciting world of letters in

-7-

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The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter One - the Return of a Victorian 1
  • Chapter Two - the Beginning 7
  • Chapter Three - Peter George Patmore and William Hazlitt 18
  • Chapter Four - the Duel 28
  • Chapter Five - Boyhood of Coventry Patmore 32
  • Chapter Six - First Poems 42
  • Chapter Seven - Disaster 51
  • Chapter Eight the Married Lover 58
  • Chapter Nine the Pre-Raphaelites 67
  • Chapter Ten the Angel in the House 77
  • Chapter Eleven Tennyson--The Friend 89
  • Chapter Twelve Departure 100
  • Chapter Thirteen Tired Memory 107
  • Chapter Fourteen Journey to Rome 121
  • Chapter Fifteen Second Marriage 132
  • Chapter Sixteen the Squire 140
  • Chapter Seventeen the Unknown Eros 154
  • Chapter Eighteen the Bride of Heaven 164
  • Chapter Nineteen Third Marriage 177
  • Chapter Twenty the Meeting of Two Poets 188
  • Chapter Twenty-One Lymington 203
  • Chapter Twenty-Two Alice Meynell 217
  • Chapter Twenty-Three London Life 226
  • Chapter Twenty-Four the End of the Journey 237
  • Bibliography 243
  • Index 245
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