Richard Harris Barham Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Richard Harris Barham, who successfully combined the apparently incompatible vocations of clergyman and humorist under the pseudonym Thomas Ingoldsby (IHNG-guldz-bee), was born December 6, 1788, in Canterbury, England. His childhood was a happy one, for he shared the fun-loving disposition of his parents. He was educated at St. Paul’s School, London, and Brasenose College, Oxford, where his undergraduate life has been characterized as extravagant and wild, and he remained a convivial soul after he obtained his degree. He had contemplated a career in law; however, a serious illness and the death of his mother in 1813 altered his outlook and he entered the ministry. From minor curacies, he rose to positions of some eminence, first as a canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral and later as vicar of St. Mary Magdalene. During the years from 1825 to 1840, he also became a popular figure in the literary and social life of London.{$S[A]Barham, Richard Harris;Ingoldsby, Thomas}

Barham was characterized as a model clergyman. He was an avid theatergoer, had a large circle of witty and clever friends, and never pretended to strictness of conduct. His contemporaries saw no inconsistency in his way of life, and he was universally respected and admired. Although he produced two novels, Barham came to be remembered principally for his comic verse—a literary form initiated by Thomas Hood and continued by such witty spirits as Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, though Barham...

(The entire section is 477 words.)