Robert Southey was born in 1774, the son of a wealthy wine merchant. He was expelled from Westminster School for editing a magazine entitled the Flagellant and then went on to study at Balliol College, Oxford. There he became friendly with S.T. Coleridge; together they established their Pantisocratic Society, which preached Utopian ideals of social reform.
Southey’s first volume of poetry, The Fall of Robespierre, was published in 1794 and was followed by a series of other volumes, including Thalaba the Destroyer (1797) and Madoc (1805). He also wrote prose works, including historical biographies and a novel, Wat Tyler.
In 1813, Southey was appointed Poet Laureate. He was a prolific writer and produced some of the best-known poems in the English language, including The Battle of Blenheim (1798), After Blenheim (1805) and Curse of Kehama (1809). He also wrote a number of poems for children, including The Cataract of Lodore (1835) and The Old Man’s Comforts and How He Gained Them (1837).
Southey was a rebel poet who challenged the conventions of his day. He was an influential figure in the Romantic movement and helped to establish poetry as a popular form of literature. He was also a staunch defender of the rights of the working class and wrote extensively on social reform.
Southey’s work is both thought-provoking and entertaining, and he remains one of the most underrated poets in English literature. He died of ‘softening of the brain’ in 1843.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Robert Southey: A Rebellious and Influential Poet" https://englishhistory.net/poets/robert-southey/, January 26, 2022