Austin, Alfred, 1835-1913

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1835-05-30
Death 1913-06-02
Britons
English

Biographical notes:

Alfred Austin, English poet and critic, was heavily influenced by Byron. He made several trips to Italy following the cold public reception to his epic-type narrative poem The Human Tragedy in 1862. Austin was appointed poet laureate in 1896.

From the description of Alfred Austin manuscript material, 1863 (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 73516332

From the guide to the Alfred Austin manuscript material : 5 items, ca. 1863-1869, (The New York Public Library. Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle.)

English poet influenced by nature, who was a controversial choice for Poet Laureate in 1896.

From the description of Letters, 1862-1909. (University of Iowa Libraries). WorldCat record id: 122654581

Alfred Austin was born near Leeds, England, educated at the University of London, and trained as a lawyer. He embarked on a long and prolific literary career as a poet, critic, novelist, and journalist. A staunch and consistent supporter of conservative politics, he was a foreign correspondent and astute commentator on foreign politics, and founded and served as editor of the National Review. A mediocre poet in the style of Byron, he was named Poet Laureate in 1896 (over Swinburne and Kipling), probably as a reward for his support of the conservative government, and his elevation to the post was the cause of much ridicule.

From the description of Alfred Austin letters to Mr. Munro, 1902. (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 66267183

Alfred Austin was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, Northern England. He studied at the University of London and was called to the bar in 1857, but then abandoned law for literature. His works include The Season: a Satire, 1861, The Human Tragedy, 1862, and an autobiography, 1911. He became Poet Laureate in 1896. Austin died in 1913.

From the description of Holograph letter from Alfred Austin to Dorothy, dated Swinford Old Manor, Ashford, Kent, October 20, 1892. (Florida State University). WorldCat record id: 50657631

British poet laureate, 1896-1913.

From the description of Alfred Austin papers, 1869-1902. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122500035

Mrs. Stuart-Wortley was daughter of Sir John Millais.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : to Mrs. Stuart-Wortley, 1891 Feb. 11. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270133702

Alfred Austin, English poet.

From the description of Alfred Austin collection, ca. 1865-1915. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80277827

From the description of Alfred Austin collection, ca. 1865-1915. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702148133

Alfred Austin was born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, Northern England. He studied at the University of London, and was called to the bar in 1857, but then abandoned law for literature. His works include The Season: a Satire, 1861, The Human Tragedy, 1862, and an autobiography, 1911. He became Poet Laureate in 1896. Austin died in 1913.

From the description of Letters from Alfred Austin, 1862-1912. (Florida State University). WorldCat record id: 50657602

Alfred Austin was born in Headingly, England in 1835. He became a barrister but later gave up law to focus on literature, eventually becoming poet-laureate in 1896. He passed away in Ashford, England in 1913.

From the description of Unpublished play of Alfred Austin, [undated]. (Denver Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144059698

From the guide to the Unpublished Play of Alfred Austin, undated, (University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries. Special Collections Dept.)

Poet Laureate of England.

From the description of Alfred Austin letters, 1892-1911. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 460879596

Biographical Note

Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquis of Salisbury, was born on 3 February 1830. Educated first at Eton and then at Christ Church, Oxford, he apparently found his subsequent voyage around the world (1851-1853) far more intellectually stimulating. Following his return to England, he was elected an MP for Stamford, but he began to make a real impact on the political scene only in April 1860, when he published in the Quarterly Review an article critical of popular democracy; subsequent articles, published throughout the 1860s, continued to deal with this issue as well as with questions of diplomacy and history. In July 1866, as Lord Cranborne, he entered Lord Derby's cabinet as Secretary of State for India; but seven months later, unhappy about the government's proposal to extend the franchise, he resigned. In the spring of 1868, the second Marquis having died, Cranborne became Lord Salisbury and master of the Cecil ancestral home, Hatfield House, in which simple capacity he spent the next six years, studying farming techniques, improving his estates, and criticizing Gladstonian liberalism. This period of relative inactivity ended in 1874 with the Tories' electoral victory and Salisbury's acceptance of the post of Secretary of State for India under Disraeli. As Secretary, Salisbury concerned himself not only with the Asian subcontinent but with eastern affairs in general, being sent in November 1876, for example, as the British delegate to an international conference in Constantinople on the need for governmental reform in Turkey. Some months after being promoted to the post of Foreign Secretary in the spring of 1878, Salisbury attended a second and far more important conference: the Berlin Congress, in the course of which he skillfully defended Britain's interests and emerged as a likely successor to Disraeli as leader of the Conservative Party.

Salisbury left the Foreign Office following his party's defeat in the general election of February 1880; fourteen months later, he succeeded the deceased Disraeli as leader of the Conservatives in the House of Lords. In February 1885 he became Prime Minister in a minority government which lasted only seven months before being ousted by Gladstone and the Liberals. In the general election of July 1886, however, the Conservatives won convincingly, enabling Salisbury to form a second -- and more secure -- ministry, which lasted until 1892 and in which he doubled as Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister until July 1902. He died on 22 August 1903.

Buried beneath the myriad of diplomatic, colonial, and political issues which Salisbury had to confront at the start of his third premiership was that of choosing a new poet laureate. The previous poet laureate, Tennyson, had died in 1892, and neither Gladstone nor Rosebery (Prime Ministers, 1892-94 and 1894-85, respectively) had found time to appoint a successor. Evidently unversed -- and uninterested -- in contemporary poetry, Salisbury, with the approval of Queen Victoria, appointed to the laureateship a man noted less for literary prowess than for steadfast support of the Conservative Party and its policies. Born on 30 May 1835 in a parish near Leeds, Alfred Austin, son of a devout Catholic father, spent the first years of his life at several Roman Catholic educational institutions in the north of England, finally taking a degree at the University of London. In 1854 he entered the Inner Temple to commence study for the Bar, which he joined in 1857. An inheritance left by the death of his uncle the following year, however, enabled him to abandon a career in the law and concentrate on his real love, poetry. His first poem of any note -- The Season, A Satire -- was published in 1861, and other verses followed frequently in the years ahead.

Nor did Austin limit his writing to poetry. In 1864 he offered his services -- which were accepted -- to the Standard, a Tory mouthpiece. In the numerous articles he wrote for this paper, as well as in his poetry and in the National Review (which he co-founded with W.J. Courthope in 1883), Austin gave fervent vent to his militant Toryism. Loathing all innovation, fearing popular rule, believing implicitly in tradition and the aristocracy, Austin glorified in verse and prose many of the same values held dear by other Tories. He also made a point of cultivating the friendship of the leading figures of the Conservative party, including Lord Salisbury. Remarked Gwendolyn Cecil in her biography of her father (IV: 55): Austin was a wholehearted supporter of Lord Salisbury's policy both at home and abroad, was personally attached to him, and a frequent visitor at Hatfield. Their intercourse enabled him to forward the Minister's policy by calling anonymous attention to aspects of it upon which Lord Salisbury could not himself dwell publicly, and this assistance was certainly welcomed, though there is no record of its ever having been directly invited. Salisbury generously acknowledged both Austin's personal friendship and his contributions to the Conservative cause when he selected him to be the new poet laureate. Though not unexpected, this selection, made public on 1 January 1896, aroused catcalls of derision and contempt on the part of many journalists and literati, and Austin's subsequent poetic output as laureate did nothing to lessen the hostility of his critics. Possessed of an invincible egotism and a uniquely high estimation of his own talents, however, Austin ignored his detractors and set about earnestly fulfilling the task of laureate, churning out partiotic verses which celebrated imperialism, royalty, and other staples of the Tory canon. He died on 2 June 1913.

From the guide to the Alfred Austin Papers, 1869-1902, (Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.)

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Subjects:

  • Poets, English--19th century
  • Lilies
  • Male authors, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Royal household
  • English drama (Comedy)--20th century
  • Poets, English--20th century
  • English drama (Tragedy)--19th century
  • Poets, English--19th century--Correspondence
  • Poets laureate--19th century
  • Poets laureate
  • Critics--Great Britain--19th century--Correspondence
  • Historical drama--19th century
  • English poetry--19th century--Manuscripts--Specimens
  • Sunflowers

Occupations:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)
  • Florence (Italy) (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • Great Britain (as recorded)
  • England (as recorded)