|Robert Bloomfield is buried in All Saints churchyard in
Campton in Bedfordshire, England.
Robert Bloomfield was born at Honington
is Suffolk. His father died of smallpox in 1767 leaving his mother
to bring up six children alone. She worked as a school
teacher and a wool spinner to support the family.
Plaque to Bloomfield
inside Honington Church
When Bloomfield was 11 years old his uncle
offered him work on his farm at nearby Sapiston. For
the next four years Bloomfield worked as a labourer:
minding the sheep and scaring the birds. It was these
pleasurable country experiences which would inform his masterpiece
The Farmer 's Boy.
However, Bloomfield was a short and
fragile youth and by the age of 15 it became clear that he
was unsuited to the rigours of manual labour and so
he was sent to London to work as a shoemaker alongside his
two elder brothers.
He later married and started a family - but
his life in the capital was full of hardship and squalor.
However, it was here that he started to write The Farmer's Boy
- recalling his farm worker's life in Suffolk - and
employing the same meter as
The Deserted Village by
Goldsmith. The poem was finally finished in 1798.
Initially there was no interest from publishers but then Mr Capel Lofft
a barrister from Troston Hall near Honington - who was
captivated by the poem -
found a publisher. It was an immediate success selling 26,000 copies in three years.
As a result
Bloomfield became rich and helped to start the vogue for
'peasant poetry'. (See also John
Clare.) Spurred on by this success he
wrote many other rural inspired poems including:
Journey Down the Wye, Rural Tales and May
Day with the Muses.
However, in 1812 his publisher went
bankrupt and Bloomfield was forced to leave London and
abandon his comfortable lifestyle. He moved to Shefford
in Bedfordshire. He died here in 1823 - ill and
penniless. He was probably not a 'great'
English poet but he was a skilled wordsmith and his
pastoral poem ensures him a place in English literature.
an extract from it: