John Clare

John Clare, 1793–1864, English poet. A romantic poet who wrote shortly after the vogue for such verse, he had a profound and singular gift for capturing nature in exquisitely specific detail. The son of a farm laborer, Clare was dubbed "the peasant poet." He was probably the poorest major writer in English literature, and was sometimes reduced to writing on bark or making his own paper and ink. His Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery (1820) brought him a short period of fame and briefly improved his finances. Subsequent volumes included The Village Minstrel (1821) and Rural Muse (1835). Throughout his life Clare suffered fits of melancholy, which were intensified by financial difficulties and bad health. In 1837 he was declared insane and committed to an asylum. During his first years there he wrote some of his most original and visionary poems. He was institutionalized for his last 26 years. Clare's work has influenced several contemporary poets, most notably John Ashbery.

See the edition of his poetry ed. by E. Robinson et al. (9 vol., 1964–2003); John Clare by Himself (2002), ed. by E. Robinson and D. Powell; I Am: The Selected Poetry of John Clare (2003), ed. by J. Bate; biographies by F. Martin (1865, repr. 1973), J. W. Tibble and A. Northgrave (2d ed. 1972), and J. Bate (2003); studies by M. Storey, ed. (1973) and J. M. Todd (1973).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

John Clare: Selected full-text books and articles

Literature of the Romantic Period: A Bibliographical Guide By Michael O'Neill Clarendon Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 8 "John Clare"
John Clare: A Life By Anne Northgrave Tibble; John W. Tibble Cobden-Sanderson, 1932
The Rural Muse: Studies in the Peasant Poetry of England By Rayner Unwin Allen and Unwin, 1954
Librarian's tip: "John Clare" begins on p. 121
FREE! The Romantic Movement in English Poetry By Arthur Symons E. P. Dutton, 1909
Librarian's tip: "John Clare (1793-1864)" begins on p. 288
Romantic Victorians: English Literature, 1824-1840 By Richard Cronin Palgrave, 2002
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Realizing Romanticism"
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