Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The 19th Century)
Matthew Arnold was born on December 24, 1822, in Laleham, England, a small town on the Thames near London. His father, Thomas Arnold, conducted a school there; his mother, Mary Penrose Arnold, was an Anglican clergyman’s daughter. The Arnolds were a closely knit family; Matthew, the second of nine children, was especially devoted to his older sister Jane. He had a close relationship with his mother until her death in 1873, and his father’s influence on him was crucial. In 1828, the Arnold family moved to Rugby, and in the years that followed, Thomas Arnold became famous as an educational and religious leader. As Headmaster of Rugby School, Thomas Arnold instituted reforms designed to regenerate his students’ moral, spiritual, and intellectual lives and to prepare them to become responsible leaders in a rapidly changing society. A notable writer on the religious and political issues of the day, Thomas Arnold was a proponent of a broadly Christian and unified national Church. Throughout his career, Thomas Arnold also devoted himself to the study and teaching of history. This devotion, along with his ethical seriousness, his activity as an educational reformer, and his engagement in religious controversies, helped to shape his son Matthew’s interests and thinking throughout his adult life.
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Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: British, Irish, & Commonwealth Poets)
Matthew Arnold, born on Christmas Eve, 1822, at Laleham, England, was the second child and eldest son of five boys and four girls in the family of Thomas Arnold and Mary Penrose Arnold. At the time of the poet’s birth, his father, a graduate of Oxford, was performing his duties as master at the school in Laleham, preparing himself intellectually and professionally for his appointment in 1828 as headmaster of Rugby, where he set about reforming the narrowly classical curriculum to include emphasis on language, history, and mathematics and to reflect his “broad church” liberalism, while insisting that his students maintain his own high standards of discipline and moral conduct. Though his reformist views on both church and school invited attack from traditional quarters, the elder Arnold exerted over his students, family, and English education a lingering influence after his premature death at the age of forty-seven.
Although there was an undoubtedly tense relationship between headmaster father and poetically inclined son (who, at times, neglected his studies and sported the dress and talk of a dandy), Arnold’s elegiac tribute to his father in “Rugby Chapel” confirms his mature appreciation for his father’s magisterial qualities of mind and conduct. Likewise, Arnold took a distinct pride in the Cornish ancestry of his mother, whose father was a clergyman named John Penrose and whose mother’s maiden name was Trevenen. Arnold’s interest in...
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Biography (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Matthew Arnold was born in Laleham, England, on Christmas Eve, 1822, the second child and first son of Dr. Thomas and Mary Penrose Arnold. In December, 1827, Thomas Arnold was elected headmaster of Rugby School, where the family began residence in August, 1828. It was the beginning of an auspicious career for Thomas Arnold, who would distinguish himself as the foremost educational reformer of the English public school. In addition to a general enhancing of academic quality, Dr. Arnold’s reforms for his new students specifically included the introduction of modern languages and mathematics into the center of the curriculum, the fostering of a higher moral tone, and the inculcation of a greater sense of social responsibility among the privileged Rugby students toward the lower classes of English society. Dr. Arnold’s social and intellectual perspective had a pronounced influence on his son, who, although he did not begin studies at the school until 1837, lived at the center of the Rugby community.
Enrolled at Winchester School in August, 1836, for one year of preparatory study, Matthew Arnold subsequently entered Rugby in late summer of the following year. He was a desultory student, frequently late for class and poorly disciplined in his approach to his studies. It was an attitude that caused considerable concern for his parents, particularly his...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Matthew Arnold—poet, educator, and literary and social critic—was born at Laleham-on-Thames in Surrey on December 24, 1822, the second child and eldest son of Mary Penrose Arnold and the Reverend Thomas Arnold, the famous headmaster. His godfather was John Keble, a future leader of the Oxford Movement. In 1828 Matthew’s father became the headmaster of Rugby School. At Rugby Dr. Arnold brought about important changes in English education, not by spectacular reforms but rather through the force of his character and example, both of which affected his son profoundly. Instilling in his students religious and moral principles, gentlemanly conduct, and intellectual competence, Dr. Arnold transformed Rugby into a place of Christian education and into a celebrated public school. In a sense, Matthew became his father’s successor.
After spending a year at Winchester, his father’s old school, Matthew Arnold went on to Rugby (1837-1840) and was a student there during his father’s headmastership. At Rugby he won the poetry prize for his poem Alaric at Rome and won an open scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. There he attended from 1841 to 1844. At the same time, his father started teaching at Oxford; in 1841 his father was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History. While at Oxford, Arnold studied classical literature, tied for second place...
(The entire section is 1077 words.)