Chatterton, Thomas. (1752 - 1770).
L i f e
- poverty and lack of literary success led him to suicide at the age of 17
- did not have to suffer his dire poverty x but: too proud to accept help
=> the Romantic image of the suffering of unacknowledged genius
W o r k
< voraciously read Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Thomas Percy’s Reliques, James Macpherson’s Ossian, etc.
- fascinated with the Middle Ages, lived in his own ideal medieval world
- forged the so-called ‘Rowley Poems’: mock-medieval poems by the imaginary 15th century priest Thomas Rowley
“Elinoure and Juga”:
- his only ‘Rowley’ poem published during his lifetime, an ‘eclogue’
- claimed it to be a transcription of Rowley’s work
- includes obvious borrowings, deliberate use of archaic words picked out of dictionaries, and anachronistic use of Elizabethan verse forms
“An Excelente Balade of Charitie”
- another of the “Rowley” poems, rejected for publication
Poems supposed to have been written at Bristol by Thomas Rowley and others, in the Fifteenth Century (1777, posthumously):
- a posthumous collection of the ‘Rowley’ poems
- edited by a Chaucerian scholar believing them genuine medieval works
- the authenticity challenged shortly thereafter > proved to be fakes
"I thought of Chatterton, the marvellous Boy, / The sleepless Soul that perished in his pride; / Of Him who walked in glory and in joy / Following his plough, along the mountain-side."
From William Wordsworth's "Resolution and Independence" (1807).
(Picture: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorThomas Chatterton. (1752 - 1770). British.
WorkPoet. Author of the "Rowley Poems".
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