Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 1837-1909

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1837-04-05
Death 1909-04-10
Britons
English, French

Biographical notes:

British poet.

From the description of The descent into hell [manuscript poem], 1873 Jan. 9. (Boston Athenaeum). WorldCat record id: 41416044

From the description of Autograph quotation, [ca. 1890?]. (Boston Athenaeum). WorldCat record id: 315968127

Swinburne (1837-1909) was an English lyric poet, dramatist, and critic of the Victorian era. He was famous for the innovative versification of his poetry and infamous for his violent attacks on Victorian morality.

From the guide to the Compositions, 1872-1902 and undated., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

Algernon Charles Swinburne was born into a wealthy and aristocratic family, and educated at Eton and Oxford, although he left without taking a degree. He began publishing poetry and plays and, supported by his father, ingratiated himself into London's literary circle. He quickly gained notoriety with Poems and Ballads, a passionate book of poems that scandalized Victorian society, and continued to write innovative and often brilliant lyric poetry throughout his life, distinguished by his love of nature and humanism. He also wrote insightful and influential criticism, prose, and unparalleled parodies. His fascination with paganism and rebellious nature contributed to his troubled and often controversial personal life.

From the description of Algernon Charles Swinburne letters, 1884 and undated. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 69935841

In 1887, Swinburne's novel, "A year's letters," was appearing in the Tatler under the pseudonym of Mrs. Horace Manners (cf. T. J. Wise's Bibl. of ... Swinburne).

From the description of Letter [1877?] Sep. 22, 3 Great James Steet [London] to "Dear Sir" [n.p.] (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34364460

Swinburne was at Oxford, 1856-1859.

From the description of The influence of the Roman censorship on the morals of the people [1856 or 1857]. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34364760

Swinburne moved to this address about July, 1878. His severe illness over the next year led to his moving with W. T. Watts to The Pines in Sep. 1879 [c.f. J. O. Fuller's Swinburne (New York, Schocken Books, c1968)]

From the description of Letter [1878?] 25 Guildford Street [London] to Mrs. Greville [London]. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34364472

British author.

From the description of Papers, 1866-1907. (Duke University Library). WorldCat record id: 20400234

One of the great poets of the Victorian era who earned a reputation as a 'decadent' poet based on his deep-seated atheism, sadomasochism, and frequent treatment of taboo subjects. Also evident in Swinburne's work are a deep love of nature, a vast knowledge of biblical, classical, and medieval literature and a passionate republicanism.

From the description of Algernon Charles Swinburne collection, 1839-1971 (bulk 1860-1930). (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 316073360

Alfred Tennyson was a British poet and playwright.

From the guide to the Alfred Tennyson collection of papers, 1823-1907, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

English poet.

From the description of Algernon Charles Swinburne correspondence, 1868. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70981014

From the description of Autograph letter signed : London, to Martin F. Tupper, [no year] Dec. 11. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270854673

From the description of The Devil's due : autograph manuscript signed : St. Vilda, 1875 Dec. 8. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270844244

From the description of Autograph letter signed : The Pines, to Edmund Gosse, 1880 Jul. 5. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270575932

From the description of Où sont les vieilles lunes : autograph manuscript poem fragment signed, [1878 or later]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270581044

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Knebworth, Stevenage, Herts., to John Camden Hotten, ca. 1866 Aug. 20. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270574845

From the description of Autograph manuscript unsigned of an essay on Walter Savage Landor, probably late 1864 or early 1865 [watermarked 1863]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270580432

From the description of Autograph letter signed : [n.p.], to Sydney Carlyle Cockerell, 1897 Jan. 20. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270575105

From the description of Letter signed : London, to an unidentified recipient, 1907 Apr. 25. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270857691

From the description of Autograph letter signed : London, to G. Barnett Smith, 1894 Nov. 7. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270854669

From the description of Autograph manuscript signed of a two-stanza poem : [n.p., n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270858401

From the description of Autograph letter signed with initials : the Pines, Putney Hill, to Lord Houghton, 1881 Jan. 29. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270579182

From the description of [Letter, 1866?] Apr. 2, 22a Dorset St., W. [to] Knight / A. C. Swinburne. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 437430571

Swinburne (1837-1909) was an English lyric poet, dramatist, and critic of the Victorian era.

From the description of Compositions, 1837-1909 and undated. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 79021222

Algernon Charles Swinburne was a British poet, novelist, dramatist, essayist, and literary critic.

From the description of Algernon Charles Swinburne collection of papers, [1856]-1945 bulk (1866-1909). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122639830

From the guide to the Algernon Charles Swinburne collection of papers, 1856]-1945, 1866-1909, (The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.)

Epithet: poet

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000001123.0x000011

Algernon Charles Swinburne was born in Grosvenor Place, London on 5 April 1837. Swinburne attended Eton in 1849 before entering Balliol College, Oxford in 1856. He left Oxford without graduating in 1860. He contributed to periodicals including the Spectator and Fortnightly Review . The first poem to be published under his name was Atalanta in Calydon (1865), which was received with critical acclaim. He also wrote the political work Songs before Sunrise and continued to write until a few years before his death. He died of influenza on 10 April 1909.

From the guide to the Swinburne, Algernon Charles, 1890, (Senate House Library, University of London)

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909) was a Victorian era English poet. He was born in London to Admiral Charles Henry Swinburne and Lady Jane Henrietta, a daughter of George, 3rd Earl of Ashburnham, but grew up on the Isle of Wight. Swinburne attended Eton college and then Balliol College, Oxford where he took several prizes for French and Italian but was "rusticated" (temporarily expelled) from the university in 1859. He is considered one of the Pre-Raphaelites, a collective term for a group of English artists, poets, critics and writers which included Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, and William Holman Hunt. Two early works, Atalanta in Calydon (1865) and Poems and Ballads, First Series (1866), established him as England's premier poet, though critics have noted with disfavor his florid style and his tendency to choose words for their fitness to rhyme scheme rather than their contribution to the meaning of a piece.

Besides his poetry, Swinburne was active as a critic, and authored several volumes of literary criticism including Note on Charlotte Brontë (1880), Study of Shakespeare (1877), and The Age of Shakespeare (1909). His criticism was less reasoned than passionate, being strongly influenced by his personal likes and dislikes.

His personal life was chaotic owing to his excitable temperament, which was not improved by his excessive drinking, and a fondness for portraying himself as a master of vices of all kinds (though Oscar Wilde alleged that Swinburne's vices were all invented fictions, calling him "a braggart in matters of vice, who had done everything he could to convince his fellow citizens of his homosexuality and bestiality without being in the slightest degree a homosexual or a bestializer."). In 1879 his legal advisor Theodore Watts-Dunton persuaded him to adopt a healthier lifestyle; as a result of this and of his increasing deafness he saw less of those of his friends who were a negative influence. Swinburne lived the rest of his days at "The Pines," Watts-Dunton's house outside London. He died of influenza in 1909.

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from "A. C. Swinburne: Biography" by Glenn Everett, Associate Professor of English, University of Tennessee at Martin.]

From the guide to the Algernon Charles Swinburne Collection, 1858-1948, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

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Subjects:

  • Prompt-book
  • Despair--Poetry
  • English drama--Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600--Manuscripts
  • Authors, English--19th century
  • French literature--19th century
  • English drama--Early modern and Elizabethan, 1500-1600--History and criticism
  • Criticism
  • English poetry--19th century--History and criticism
  • English prose literature--19th century
  • Authors, British--Correspondence
  • Punishment in literature
  • Flagellation--19th century
  • English poetry--19th century
  • Literature--British
  • Tides--Poetry
  • Literature
  • English fiction 19th century
  • English literature--20th century
  • Poets, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Authors, English--19th century--Manuscripts
  • Authors, English
  • Tristan (Legendary character)--Poetry
  • Poets, English--19th century
  • Cordelia (Legendary character)--Manuscripts
  • English drama--19th century
  • Poets, English
  • Latin literature, Medieval and modern--19th century
  • Poets, English--19th century--Manuscripts
  • English literature--19th century
  • Decadence (Literary movement)
  • English literature--20th century--History and criticism
  • Fetishism (Sexual behavior)
  • Authors, British--Manuscripts
  • English poetry--20th century

Occupations:

  • Poets
  • Authors
  • Lyricists
  • Critic

Places:

  • Brenzett, Kent (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • India, Asia (as recorded)
  • South Africa, Africa (as recorded)
  • India, Asia (as recorded)
  • Port Royal, Jamaica (as recorded)
  • Ireland, Europe (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • Denshawaï, Egypt (as recorded)
  • Waterloo, Belgium (as recorded)
  • Kemsing, Kent (as recorded)