Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Richard Doddridge Blackmore’s father was an Anglican curate. When Blackmore’s mother died shortly after his birth in Longworth, Berkshire, England, on June 7, 1825, his father sent him to live with a grandmother. Blackmore was an unusually shy person and was reticent about his life, so relatively little is known about him. The reason for his shyness may have been a tendency toward strokes that became evident even during his childhood and that plagued Blackmore throughout his life. After attending Blundell School, Blackmore entered Exeter College of Oxford University in 1843, receiving his M.A. in 1852. Following graduation from Oxford, he studied law and was admitted to the bar. Blackmore married Lucy Maguire in 1853. Although his wife was an invalid during most of their married life, her death was a severe blow to Blackmore when she died thirty-six years later.
Dissatisfied with the practice of law soon after he had been admitted to the bar, Blackmore turned to teaching. Teaching, which he did only from 1855 to 1857, also proved unsatisfactory. Fortunately for him, an inheritance and poor health gave him the excuse to retire to a life of writing and gardening at Gomer House, Teddington, on the River Thames just outside London. As early as his student days at Oxford, Blackmore had begun writing poetry, publishing under the pseudonym of Melanter. Two volumes of poems “by Melanter” appeared in 1854 and 1855. They received little attention from...
(The entire section is 550 words.)
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Budd, Kenneth George. The Last Victorian: R. D. Blackmore and His Novels. London: Centaur Press, 1960. A good introduction. Analyzes Blackmore’s style and lyricism, rebutting accusations of wordiness and lack of realism. Favorably compares Blackmore to other Victorian rural novelists.
Burris, Quincey G. Richard Doddridge Blackmore: His Life and Novels. Reprint. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1980. Discusses Blackmore’s attitudes about nature and civilization, analyzing plot, character, and theme. Compares Lorna Doone with other Blackmore novels, tracing symbol and imagery, recurring ideas, and character types.
Dunn, Waldo H. R. D. Blackmore: The Author of “Lorna Doone.” Reprint. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1974. Although marred by some inaccuracies about Blackmore’s father, provides the best introduction to his life and work. Discusses details of various editions of Lorna Doone and Blackmore’s changing views about the novel by comparing the prefaces.
Elwin, Malcolm. Victorian Wallflowers. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1966. Presents Blackmore as an unjustly neglected author by providing a literary history of the period, comparing his works with those of Anthony Trollope and Thomas Hardy. Asserts that Blackmore’s portrayal of rural England ranks with Charles Dickens’s portrait of cockney London.
Sutton, Max Keith. R. D. Blackmore. Boston: Twayne, 1979. An excellent beginning source. A short biography provides updated information about Blackmore’s life. Contains the most detailed critical study of Lorna Doone, including an extensive discussion of the novel’s mythic nature.