21 - 40 of 87 results


Anonymous

Anonymous

Anonymous is a well-known and prolific poet. Many of the traditional folk ballads we know today may have begun as songs sung by wandering minstrels,for which authorship was unimportant. The songs...
Matthew Arnold

Matthew Arnold

b. 1822 d. 1888

Matthew Arnold was born in 1822, the son of the celebrated headmaster of Rugby, Thomas Arnold. Matthew attended Balliol College, Oxford and was a close friend of an older fellow Rugbeian, the poet...
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...
Anna Laetitia Barbauld

Anna Laetitia Barbauld

b. 1743 d. 1825

Anna Barbauld (nee Aikin) was born in 1743, daughter of a nonconformist minister and schoolmaster, who taught her to read English before she was three and to master French, Italian, Latin and Greek...
William Barnes

William Barnes

b. 1801 d. 1866

William Barnes was a Dorset‑dialect poet and artist. An extremely learned man with knowledge of many languages, he worked for some time as a schoolteacher, running his own schools with his wife,...
Aphra Behn

Aphra Behn

b. 1640 d. 1689

Aphra Behn was the first female writer to make her living through her art; she was a significant seventeenth‑century dramatist,The Rover being one of her best‑known plays. Little is known of her...
William Blake

William Blake

b. 1757 d. 1827

William Blake was born in London in 1757 and spent most of his long life there. The son of a hosier, he left ordinary school at the age of ten to join a drawing school, and at fourteen became...

Anne Bradstreet

b. 1612 d. 1672

Anne Bradstreet was born in 1612 in England. In 1630 she emigrated to Massachusetts, with her father Thomas Dudley and her husband Simon Bradstreet. They sailed as members of the expedition led by...
Robert Bridges

Robert Bridges

b. 1844 d. 1930

Robert Bridges was a trained doctor working in London hospitals until 1882, a classicist and poet who served as Poet Laureate from 1913 until his death in 1930. Educated at Eton and Corpus Christi...
Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte

b. 1818 d. 1848

Emily Bronte was born in 1818, the daughter of Irishman Patrick Bronte, perpetual curate of Haworth, Yorkshire. Emily's mother died in 1821, leaving five daughters and a son to the care of their aunt...
Robert Browning

Robert Browning

b. 1812 d. 1889

Robert Browning was born in South London in 1812. He was largely self-educated, utilising his father's extensive library of over six thousand volumes. A voracious reader, Browning would later draw on...
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

b. 1806 d. 1861

Elizabeth Barrett was born in 1806, the eldest of twelve children of Edward Barrett, whose fortune was derived from Jamaican plantations. She was largely self-educated at home: something of a prodigy...
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....
Lord Byron

Lord Byron

b. 1788 d. 1824

George Byron was born in 1788 with a deformed foot: he limped all his life. His father was 'Mad Jack' Byron, an infamous adventurer who abandoned his wife and family in 1790 and died in 1791. At the...
Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll

b. 1832 d. 1898

Lewis Carroll was the literary pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, born in 1832, the third in a family of eleven children; he had seven younger sisters. In childhood, he produced magazines for his...
C.P Cavafy

C. P. Cavafy

b. 1863 d. 1933

Cavafy is widely considered to be one of the greatest Greek poets of the twentieth century. A perfectionist as regards his work, which he constantly revised, he published only 154 poems in his...
G.K Chesterton

G. K. Chesterton

b. 1874 d. 1936

Chesterton is probably best known for his popular priest-detective Father Brown, who appeared in over fifty short stories. However, he was also a poet, biographer, essayist, dramatist, critic,...
John Clare

John Clare

b. 1793 d. 1864

John Clare, the son of a casual labourer, was born in Helpstone, Northamptonshire. His twin sister died a few weeks after their birth and he was brought up in poverty, only attending school very...
Arthur Hugh Clough

Arthur Hugh Clough

b. 1819 d. 1861

Clough suffered from periods of religious doubt throughout his life. His inability to subscribe to the Thirty‑nine Articles, which detailed the beliefs of the Church of England, meant that he felt...
Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

b. 1861 d. 1907

Intellectually gifted Mary Coleridge was the great-grand‑niece of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Her parents were impressively well connected to writers and musicians in the London of the last half of the...
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

b. 1772 d. 1874

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in 1772, the tenth and youngest child of the schoolmaster of the country town of Ottery St Mary. After the death of his father he attended Christ's Hospital School...
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...
W.H Davies

W. H. Davies

b. 1871 d. 1940

The Welsh poet William Henry Davies wrote the poem ‘Leisure’, which famously begins:‘What is this life if, full of care,/We have no time to stand and stare.’
The poem’s theme is reflected in Davies’s...
Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson

b. 1830 d. 1886

Only seven of Emily Dickinson's poems were published in her lifetime; these were heavily edited. Many of the rest were found after her death, in little packets bound together to make small books....
John Donne

John Donne

b. 1572 d. 1631

John Donne was the greatest non-dramatic poet of his time, and its most admired preacher. He was born in 1571, a Londoner and the son of Catholic parents. In his teens, he attended both Oxford and...
John Dryden

John Dryden

b. 1631 d. 1700

John Dryden was one of the dominant literary figures of the English Restoration period. He began his prolific and versatile writing career in the Puritan era before Charles II became king, and wrote...
W.E.B. DuBois

W. E. B. DuBois

b. 1868 d. 1963

Sociologist, civil rights campaigner, historian, Harvard graduate, anti-war activist, academic, essayist, novelist, communist and, of course, poet, W.E.B. DuBois was passionately committed to...
Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

b. 1872 d. 1906

Dunbar was one of the first African-American poets to be widely known and admired in America. His parents were freed slaves and Dunbar used some of their tales of plantation life in his work.
After a...
Anne Finch

Anne Finch

b. 1661 d. 1720

Anne Finch was an aristocrat acquainted with the most famous poet of the age, Alexander Pope. However, during her lifetime, her poetry was little known and would have remained obscure had not William...
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...

Ivor Gurney

b. 1890 d. 1937

Ivor Gurney suffered periods of mental ill health before the First World War, but his condition had deteriorated significantly by the end of the conflict. He had joined up after initially being...
Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy

b. 1840 d. 1928

Thomas Hardy was born in 1840, the son of a stonemason. He trained and practised as an architect, but, as soon as he could, earned his living by writing the novels which made him famous. Then, after...
Felicia Hemans

Felicia Hemans

b. 1793 d. 1835

Felicia Hemans’s ‘Casabianca’ took on such a vibrant life of its own after her death that, somehow, its author became almost irrelevant. In fact, Hemans was an accomplished and prolific poet who...
W.E Henley

W. E. Henley

b. 1849 d. 1903

‘Invictus’ has ensured that Henley is a significant Victorian literary figure, but the phenomenal popularity of this one poem has perhaps led to the neglect of his other work. In fact, Henley was an...
George Herbert

George Herbert

b. 1593 d. 1633

George Herbert was born in Montgomery Castle, Shropshire, in 1593 and died at the age of forty. He was descended on his father's side from the earls of Pembroke and on his mother's from a family of...
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Gerard Manley Hopkins

b. 1844 d. 1889

Gerard Hopkins was born in 1844, went to Highgate School and won a scholarship to Balliol College Oxford where he took a double first in Classics. He then entered the Society of Jesus and, feeling...
A. E. Housman

A E Housman

b. 1859 d. 1936

Alfred Edward Housman, the eldest son of a Bromsgrove solicitor, was born in 1859. He attended Bromsgrove School as a dayboy, but soon after he started there his mother fell ill and his father sank...
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...
Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson

b. 1572 d. 1637

Jonson was a skilful satirist of contemporary society, producing Volpone for the stage in 1606 and The Alchemist in 1610. It is highly likely that Shakespeare would have appeared in a production of...
John Keats

John Keats

b. 1795 d. 1828

Keats was born in London in 1795. His father was killed in a riding accident when Keats was eight; his mother died six years later, probably from tuberculosis. The loss of his parents, especially of...
Henry King

Henry King

b. 1592 d. 1669

The son of an influential Bishop of London, Henry King followed in his father’s footsteps to pursue a career in the Church, which culminated in his appointment as Bishop of Chichester, a position he...
D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence

b. 1885 d. 1930

A miner’s son from Nottingham, Lawrence was a prolific writer of short stories, essays, poems and novels before his death at the age of forty‑four in 1930. He was a rebellious, restless and polemical...
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...
Amy Levy

Amy Levy

b. 1861 d. 1889

Amy Levy was one of seven children born to a wealthy Anglo‑Jewish family. She was in many ways a pioneering woman, becoming the first Jewish woman ever to study at Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1879...
Thomas Love Peacock

Thomas Love Peacock

b. 1785 d. 1866

Thomas Love Peacock is probably best known today for his hilarious Nightmare Abbey, which cheerfully satirizes the interest of contemporary literature in morbid subjects and gothic settings. Some of...
Amy Lowell

Amy Lowell

b. 1874 d. 1925

Amy Lowell was born into an affluent Massachusetts family and educated at home and in private schools in Boston. Her financial resources helped her develop a liberated and unconventional lifestyle....
Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe

b. 1564 d. 1593

Marlowe is believed to have written all his poems and translations as a young man studying at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He was born in 1564, the same year as Shakespeare, and was the son of...
Andrew Marvell

Andrew Marvell

b. 1621 d. 1678

Andrew Marvell was born near Kingston Upon Hull in 1621, the son of a priest. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge, but left his studies early when his father was drowned in a boating accident on...
George Meredith

George Meredith

b. 1828 d. 1909

George Meredith was a Victorian poet, author and journalist. He published eighteen novels between 1856 and his death in 1909 and, although many had limited commercial and critical success,The Egoist...
Charlotte Mew

Charlotte Mew

b. 1869 d. 1928

Charlotte Mew was surrounded by mental ill health and death from a young age. Three brothers died while she was still a child and two other siblings were committed to mental institutions. She vowed...
John Milton

John Milton

b. 1608 d. 1674

John Milton was born in 1608 in Bread Street, Cheapside, the son of a composer and scrivener. He was educated at St Paul's School and Christ's College, Cambridge and seemed destined for the...
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‑...
E. Nesbit

E. Nesbit

b. 1858 d. 1924

Edith Nesbit was a prolific author of over forty books for children, including the enduringly popular The Railway Children.
Her lifestyle, especially for a middle‑class Victorian woman, was highly...
Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen

b. 1893 d. 1918

The poems that made Wilfred Owen famous were mostly published after his death in action a week before the end of the First World War. Powerfully influenced by Keats and Shelley, he experimented with...
Katherine Philips

Katherine Philips

b. 1632 d. 1664

Katherine Philips started writing soon after her marriage in 1647, aged sixteen, to James Philips. He was a prominent supporter of the Parliamentary cause, whereas Katherine enthusiastically welcomed...
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...
Adelaide Anne Procter

Adelaide Anne Procter

b. 1825 d. 1864

Adelaide Anne Proctor’s father was a poet, and her mother actively encouraged her daughter’s interest in poetry. She submitted her early work to Charles Dickens’s publication Household Words under...
Walter Ralegh

Walter Ralegh

b. 1552 d. 1618

As a successful military adventurer and explorer, author and poet, Ralegh was a significant figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. He took expeditions to the New World, searching for El Dorado,...
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...
Isaac Rosenberg

Isaac Rosenberg

b. 1890 d. 1918

Isaac Rosenburg was born in Bristol in 1890, the son of Russian immigrants; his father was a learned Jew who scraped a living as a pedlar and market trader. In 1897 the family moved to Whitechapel in...
Christina Rossetti

Christina Rossetti

b. 1830 d. 1894

Many readers first come across Christina Rossetti as the writer of the words of the carol 'In the Bleak Midwinter', or the deceptively simple, but actually strange and powerful, fairy tale in verse,...
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...
William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

b. 1564 d. 1616

Little is known about Shakespeare's life. Existing records give tantalising glimpses: he was born in 1564, the eldest son of an illiterate but locally prominent Stratford glover, married (at eighteen...
Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley

b. 1792 d. 1822

Shelley was born at Field Place, near Horsham, the eldest son of Sir Timothy Shelley, MP for the Duke of Norfolk's pocket borough of Shoreham-by-sea. Shelley was educated at Eton, where he was known...
Philip Sidney

Philip Sidney

b. 1554 d. 1586

A poet, soldier and courtier, Philip Sidney was one of the most celebrated figures of the Elizabethan age. He was a member of a distinguished and talented family; his sister, Mary, the Countess of...
Mary Sidney Herbert

Mary Sidney Herbert

b. 1561 d. 1621

Mary Sidney Herbert was an influential and talented poet, translator and patron of the arts in Elizabethan England. She was also the sister of the courtier and poet Philip Sidney. She completed the...
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,...
Charlotte Smith

Charlotte Smith

b. 1749 d. 1806

Charlotte Turner was born in 1749 into the landed gentry. Her father owned two prosperous estates, Stoke Place in Surrey and Bignor Park in Sussex, but gambling losses destroyed his fortune; aged...
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...
Robert Southwell

Robert Southwell

b. 1561 d. 1595

Southwell wrote most of his poems and prose when working as an underground Jesuit priest in Protestant England at a time when an active Catholic priest’s chances of survival were no more than one in...
Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser

b. 1553 d. 1599

Edmund Spenser is often mentioned alongside Shakespeare, Marlowe and Donne as one of the greatest poets of the Elizabethan period.
He is probably best known for his long, allegorical epic poem, The...
Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson

b. 1850 d. 1894

Born in Scotland, Stevenson was an unconventional and adventurous novelist, poet, essayist, short‑story and travel writer with a remarkable gift for captivating story‑telling. Some of his prose works...
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...
Algernon Swinburne

Algernon Swinburne

b. 1837 d. 1909

Swinburne came from an aristocratic background and drew on a wide range of influences and interests from an early age, including Elizabethan dramatists, Greek and Latin poets and French writers. He...
Alfred Tennyson

Alfred Tennyson

b. 1809 d. 1892

Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, the third surviving son of a rector whose violent alcoholism blighted the family home. Tennyson went to Cambridge where he met Arthur...
Edward Thomas

Edward Thomas

b. 1878 d. 1917

Edward Thomas wrote all his poetry in less than three years, between 1914, when he wrote his first, and 1917, when he was killed in the Battle of Arras. Most of his poems were published posthumously...
Chidiock Tichborne

Chidiock Tichborne

b. 1562 d. 1586

Chidiock Tichborne was part of the Babington plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth I. When the Protestant Elizabeth came to the throne, Catholics such as Tichborne had a degree of freedom to practise...
Frederick Tuckerman

Frederick Tuckerman

b. 1821 d. 1873

Tuckerman’s beloved wife died in childbirth, and a powerful sense of grief and loss permeates many of his poems. He was a poet of the outdoors, spending much time wandering through the woods and...

Henry Vaughan

b. 1621 d. 1625

Henry Vaughan was born in 1621 in the Welsh country parish of Llansantffread between the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, where he lived for nearly the whole of his life. His younger twin...
Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

b. 1819 d. 1892

At various times, Walt Whitman was a teacher, a journalist, a government official and a clerk. He also spent a significant period in his life working in the hospitals of the American Civil War, and...
Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde

b. 1854 d. 1900

Wilde’s imprisonment for homosexuality in 1895 ended a spectacularly successful career. Although he lived for a few more years in exile in France after his release and produced some moving poetry,...
John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

b. 1647 d. 1680

John Wilmot was born in 1647, the son of Henry Wilmot, a celebrated Royalist who had led the cavalry at the Battle of Edgehill. Henry helped the young Prince Charles escape to France after the...
Charles Wolfe

Charles Wolfe

b. 1791 d. 1823

Charles Wolfe was an Irish priest and poet who is best remembered for this extremely popular elegy, which has appeared in many anthologies of poetry throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries...
William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth

b. 1770 d. 1850

Wordsworth was born at Cockermouth, Cumbria, in 1770, the son of an attorney. Both parents were dead by the time he was thirteen, a loss recorded in the early part of 'The Prelude' where he describes...
Thomas Wyatt

Thomas Wyatt

b. 1503 d. 1542

Thomas Wyatt was born in 1504. His father was a Lancastrian, imprisoned and tortured near the end of the Wars of the Roses in the reign of Richard III, then promoted to high office by Henry VII....
William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats

b. 1865 d. 1939

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) stands at the turning point between the Victorian period and Modernism, the conflicting currents of which affected his poetry. Born in Dublin, Yeats' family moved to...

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A tour of the Archive with Helen Gray

As a secondary schoolteacher in London for the past thirty years, it has been my privilege to have had a job which...

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

Whoso list to hunt

Thomas Wyatt

read by Alice Oswald

As the Team's Head-...

Edward Thomas

read by James Fenton