1754–1832, English poet, b. Aldeburgh, Suffolk. After practicing medicine for a short time, he went to London in 1780, hoping to earn money by his writing. He was befriended by Edmund Burke, whose generous assistance aided in the publication of The Library
(1781). He took orders in 1781 and held various livings, becoming rector at Trowbridge in 1814. The Village
(1783), his most famous work, is a grim picture of rustic life, written partly in reply to Goldsmith's nostalgic Deserted Village.
His bleak, realistic descriptions of life led Byron to call him
nature's sternest painter, yet the best.
His other works include The Parish Register
(1807), The Borough
(1812), and Tales of the Hall
See biographies by his son (ed. by E. M. Forster, 1932; repr. 1949) and R. L. Chamberlain (1965); studies by A. Pollard (1972) and B. Nelson (1976).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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