by Edmund Gosse


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Thomas Gray (1716–71) was one of the most influential poets of the eighteenth century, and is probably best remembered today for his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. In this biography of Gray, first published in the first 'English Men of Letters' series in 1882, poet and critic Edmund Gosse (1849–1928) delivers a sympathetic account of his subject, offering both a traditional chronological narrative of Gray's life, from his schooldays at Eton, through his travels abroad and his academic career at Cambridge (though he was appointed professor of modern history in 1768, failing health meant that he never delivered any lectures), and an analysis of his poetry. In the book's last chapter, Gosse laments the lack of recognition that Gray had received in England since his death: Dr Johnson is criticised especially for his writings on Gray – 'barren and meagre of fact to the last degree'.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781108034517
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 10/31/2011
Series: Cambridge Library Collection - English Men of Letters Series
Pages: 242
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.55(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER III. STOKK-POGIS. DEATH OP WEST. FIRST ENGLISH POEMS. On his return from Italy Gray found his father lying very ill, exhausted by successive attacks of gout, and unable to rally from tbem. Two months later, o,n the 6th of November, 1741, he died in a paroxysm of the disease. His last act had been to squander his fortune, which seems to have remained until that time.almost unimpaired, on building a country-house at Wanstead. Not only had he not written to tell his son of this adventure, but he had actually contrived to conceal it from his wife. Mason is not correct in saying that it became necessary to sell this house immediately after Philip Gray's death, or that it fetched 2000/. less than it had cost; it remained in the possession of Mrs. Gray. With the ruins of a fortune Mrs. Gray and her sister, Mary Antrobus, seem to have kept house for a year in Cornhill, till, on the death of their brother-in-law, Mr. Jonathan Rogcrs, on the 21st of October, 1742, they joined their widowed sister Anna in her house at Stoke-Pogis, in Buckinghamshire. During these months they wound up their private business in Corn- hill, and disposed of their shop on tolerably advantageous terms; and apparently Gray first imagined that the family property would be enough to provide amply for himalso. Accordingly he began the study of the law, that being the profession for winch he had been originally intended. For six months or more he seems to have stayed in London, applying himself rather languidly to common law, and giving his real thoughts and sympathies to those who demanded them most, his mother and his unfortunate friend, Richard West. The latter, indeed, he found in a miserable condition. InJune, 1740, that young man, having lived at the Temple till he was sick of it, left chambers, fi...

Table of Contents

Prefatory note; 1. Childhood and early college life; 2. The Grand Tour; 3. Stoke-Pogis - death of West - first English poems; 4. Life at Cambridge; 5. The Elegy - six poems - death of Gray's aunt and mother; 6. The Pindaric Odes; 7. British Museum - Norton Nicholls; 8. Life at Cambridge - English travels; 9. Bonstetten - death; 10. Posthumous.

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