PREFACE

THERE HAVE been four books on the Laureateship before this one. They are:

The Lives of the Poets-Laureate. With an Introductory Essay on the Title and Office. By Wiltshire Stanton Austin, Jun., and John Ralph M.A. 1853.

The Poets Laureate of England. By Walter Hamilton. 1879.

The Poets Laureate of England, their History and their Odes. By W. Forbes Gray. 1914.

The Laureateship, a Study of the Office of Poet Laureate in England with some account of the Poets. By Edmund Kemper Broadus. 1921.

Of these, the first three are out of date and not easily come by; they are also frequently inaccurate, a charge from which indeed even Professor Broadus cannot escape, and one which I have no doubt will be found applicable also to me: for three hundred years and the fives of fifteen poets cannot be distilled into one short book without some slips passing undetected. I shall look forward to the opportunity of correcting mine in a second edition!

The fourth book, by E. K. Broadus, I have not attempted to supersede. It will long be the standard work for students and it traces in great detail the history of the office of Poet Laureate -- it gives, for example, sixty closely-argued pages to those origins which I have disposed of in six. My purpose has been to write a book for the general reader, who is interested perhaps more in personalities than in what Johnson somewhere calls 'remote inquiries'. Professor Broadus gives more technical history than I do; I give more anecdote and allusion than he does.

For answering questions I could not answer for myself, I have to thank the Librarians of Trinity College and Caius and Gonville College, Cambridge. For helpful criticism, I have to thank Mr. Barney Blackley, Professor Edmund Blunden, and Professor V. de Sola Pinto.

-11-

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The Poets Laureate
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Preface 11
  • I - The Poets Laureate 13
  • 1 - Before the Laureateship: Jonson and Davenant 15
  • 2 - The First Laureate: John Dryden 21
  • 3 - Thomas Shadwell 32
  • 4 - Nahum Tate 44
  • 5 - Nicholas Rowe 55
  • 6 - Laurence Eusden 62
  • 7 - Colley Cibber 68
  • 8 - William Whitehead 79
  • 9 - Thomas Warton 92
  • 10 - Henry James Pye 109
  • 11- Robert Southey 124
  • 12 - William Wordsworth 145
  • 13 - Alfred, Lord Tennyson 153
  • 14 - Alfred Austin 166
  • 15 - Robert Bridges 178
  • 16 - John Masefield 185
  • II - Selections from the Works Of the Poets Laureate 193
  • Ben Jonson 195
  • Sir William Davenant 198
  • John Dryden 200
  • Thomas Shadwell 204
  • Nahum Tate 208
  • Nicholas Rowe 213
  • Laurence Eusden 220
  • Colley Cibber 225
  • William Whitehead 230
  • Thomas Warton 235
  • Henry James Pye 243
  • Robert Southey 248
  • William Wordsworth 254
  • Alfred, Lord Tennyson 260
  • Alfred Austin 267
  • Robert Bridges 272
  • John Masefield 277
  • Select Bibliography 281
  • Index 285
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