Robert Southey



Robert Southey is buried in St Kentigern's Churchyard, Crosthwaite, Keswick, Cumbria, England. His grave is located near the north side of the tower. It was renovated in 1961 by the Brazilian government. (Southey wrote a famous history of Brazil.)

Grave of Southey

A monument to him was erected inside the church and shows a white marble figure asleep, with one hand holding a book and the other on his heart. The inscription was written by William Wordsworth

Southey was expelled from Westminster School for editing a magazine entitled the Flagellant and then went on to study at Balliol College, Oxford where he became friendly with S.T. Coleridge; together they established their Pantisocratic Society.

In 1795 he married Edith Fricker who was the elder sister of Coleridge's wife Sara Fricker. After returning from Spain, Southey settled in the Lake District and became one of the Lake Poets. In 1809 he and Edith took possession of Greta Hall in Keswick after Coleridge vacated it because he found the atmosphere too damp. Southey and his family stayed here until his death on 21 March 1843.

Southey was a prodigious writer of both verse and prose. His best known poems include: The Inchape Rock, The Battle of Blenheim and The Holy Tree. His prose works include the celebrated History of Brazil (1810-1819) and History of the Peninsula War (1823-1832).

In 1813 Southey became Poet Laureate when Sir Walter Scott declined the post in his favour, but it was a position which he found increasingly irksome.

Byron (ironically) dedicated his long satirical poem Don Juan to Southey - which begins: 'Bob Southey! You're a poet - poet Laureate, And representative of all the race;'.  Southey is mocked on a number of occasions in Don Juan. However, Byron also famously said of Southey that: 'The varlet was not an ill-looking knave'.

Of the three lake poets, Southey is the least well read today. His work tends to be competent but a little uninspired.

He died of 'softening of the brain'.

See also parody and romanticism.

 Monument to Southey

Robert Southey

You are old, Father William, the young man cried
   And pleasures with youth pass away,
And yet you lament not the days that are gone,
    Now tell me the reason, I pray.

The Old Man's Comforts, And How He Gained Them
 (complete poem)

Read more of Southey's poetry


Photograph by Tom Grayling






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