The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE
London Life

LIFE in London during the ''nineties' was a very different world from the one Patmore had known in the days of his first success--those far-off days when, as the young author of the Poems of 1844 he had attended the soirées of Lord Northampton, the parties of Monckton Milnes, and the literary salon of Mrs. Procter, with its eighteenth-century traditions.

This society was more frivolous, more light-hearted, and more decadent. It was the period of Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde, and of brilliant arrivistes like Frank Harris.

However, there is no doubt that Patmore enjoyed his reentry into social life. His letters to his wife show that like every other man of eminence he was flattered by the attention shown him by his contemporaries at this late date in his life. Guided by the hand of his adored Alice Meynell, he attended dinners and parties with a quiet, amused interest.

Together, the two friends often visited Sargent's studio for the painting of Patmore's portrait, and one day Sargent drew Mrs. Meynell at her friend's request. They attended 'studio' Sunday at Sir Frederick Leighton's, then at the height of his popularity.

As he wrote to his wife:

Yesterday, I went to the Meynells' to luncheon, and afterwards to Sir F. Leighton's. It was 'Studio Sunday' when all the great artists show their pictures to their friends. Leighton's great house was thronged with fashionable people. I asked him to let me have cards for the private view that I might bring you. He said that cards went, as a matter of course, with the Anniversary Dinner. I am told that to receive an invitation to this Dinner is the greatest social distinction of the London Season. Gosse seemed astonished at such proof of my newly acquired eminence. I thought he seemed rather jealous. There were a

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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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