1 - 14 of 14 results
Joanna Baillie

Joanna Baillie

b. 1762 d. 1851

Baillie was a Scottish playwright, critic and poet who lived most of her life in Hampstead, where she was the centre of a rich literary culture. Born into a family of physicians and the daughter of a...
Robert Burns

Robert Burns

b. 1759 d. 1796

Burns started life as a ploughman in Scotland but is now one of the world’s most celebrated poets. Every January, his life is remembered with whisky, haggis, singing and dancing on Burns Night....
William Cowper

William Cowper

b. 1731 d. 1800

William Cowper was a popular poet and writer of hymns. His descriptions of everyday life in the English countryside changed nature writing in the eighteenth century, in many ways preparing the ground...
Thomas Gray

Thomas Gray

b. 1716 d. 1771

Written over several years in the 1740s, Gray’s elegy was eventually published in 1751 and enjoyed phenomenal popularity for the next two hundred years.
Gray was a versatile poet. He wrote elegant...
Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson

b. 1709 d. 1784

Samuel Johnson is a towering figure in the history of English literature, to the extent that the second half of the eighteenth century has sometimes been described as ‘the age of Johnson’. He was a...
Mary Leapor

Mary Leapor

b. 1722 d. 1746

In spite of needing to earn a living as a kitchen maid and her death from measles at the age of twenty‑four, Mary Leapor left behind a substantial body of work. Her poetry has increasingly come to be...
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

b. 1689 d. 1762

Mary Pierrepont was born in 1689, the first child of the Earl of Kingston. Her mother died in 1694 and Mary was groomed to become hostess and housekeeper for her father, then a Whig MP. Her tasks...
Hannah More

Hannah More

b. 1745 d. 1833

Hannah More’s poem was written in support of William Wilberforce’s campaign to abolish slavery. A passionate, poetic explanation of the anti-abolitionists’ argument, this extract is part of a 294‑...
Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope

b. 1688 d. 1744

Pope was born into a Catholic family in 1688, the year of The Glorious Revolution, when Catholics could not live in London - the centre of literary life – or attend university. At the age of twelve...
Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson

b. 1757 d. 1800

Mary Robinson was a gifted musician, champion of the rights of women, novelist, poet and actress. She was born in Bristol to a wealthy family and received a good education, but her marriage to the...
Walter Scott

Walter Scott

b. 1771 d. 1832

Born in Edinburgh, and trained as a lawyer, Walter Scott became an internationally popular poet, playwright and novelist. Scott’s influences include classical myths and legends, the German Romantics...
Christopher Smart

Christopher Smart

b. 1722 d. 1771

Christopher Smart was born in 1722 and is best remembered for his religious poems A Song to David and Jubilate Agno, both of which were written during his time at St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics,...
Robert Southey

Robert Southey

b. 1774 d. 1843

Robert Southey was an independently minded young man who was expelled from Westminster School for opposing flogging. He developed radical religious and political ideas and, at one stage, considered...
Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift

b. 1667 d. 1745

Born in Ireland in 1667, Swift spent much of his adult life in England. He was actively involved in politics, and in his self-penned epitaph describes himself as a ‘champion of liberty’. He was a...

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A tour of the Archive with Mark Grist

Over the years I’ve become increasingly interested in the lyrical nature of poetry. I find that the more I’ve taken...

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Enjoy new recordings of classic poems from the past read by contemporary poets

Epistle to Miss Blount,...

Alexander Pope

read by Andrew Motion

Proud Maisie

Walter Scott

read by Don Paterson