Walter Savage Landor Biography


(British and Irish Poetry, Revised Edition)

Walter Savage Landor was a man given to fierce passions; he could burst out in either anger or generosity almost without warning. He was egotistical and given to romantic notions about life; this combination caused him much unhappiness and yet underlies much of his best writing. He was born on January 30, 1775, in Warwick. In 1780, he began his schooling at Knowle; in 1783, he was sent to study at Rugby. After eight years of annoying his teachers and antagonizing others with his satirical sense of humor, he was sent home. Landor, however, remembered Rugby fondly; while there, he developed his taste for poetry and demonstrated a precocious skill in composing verse. The Reverend William Langley, of Ashbourne, Derbyshire, became Landor’s tutor in 1792. The next year, Landor entered Trinity College, Oxford. While at Oxford, he punctuated a political dispute by shooting at a neighbor’s shutters; suspended from college for two terms, he left Oxford in 1794, never to return. He moved to London and had his poetry published under a grand title for a mere twenty-year-old, The Poems of Walter Savage Landor (1795). The volume brought him a small but loyal following among other writers and readers who had a taste for fine literature.

When his father died, Landor inherited a large fortune. This he spent on a large estate in Wales and on outfitting his own regiment to fight in Spain against the French. After the French left Spain, Landor’s regiment disappeared, and he hastened home. In Wales, he tried to...

(The entire section is 619 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Seldom does a man of wealth, without a degree or a profession, become an outstanding poet, but this in brief is the life of Walter Savage Landor (LAHN-dawr), born at Warwick, England, on January 30, 1775. His education was irregular at best; he was early removed from Rugby in favor of a private tutor, and in 1794 he was rusticated from Trinity College, Cambridge, for firing a shot in a political dispute. At the age of twenty, after his father had given him an independent allowance, he brought out his first poems. In these he immediately established his reputation as a satirist and epigrammatist. Shortly afterward he inherited a fortune from his father and moved to fashionable Bath. Much of his inheritance he squandered by outfitting a regiment and fighting with the Spaniards against the French at La Coruna. From this experience came the lofty and heroic closet drama Count Julian.

His domestic life was stormy at best. Having married Julia Thuillier in 1811, he moved to the Continent after domestic and legal strife in 1818 and was finally separated from his wife in 1835. In the meantime, he was writing his best work. Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen appeared between 1824 and 1829. The “conversations” range widely in theme and time and present such figures as Diogenes and Plato, Lucullus and Caesar, Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Chrétien-Guillaume de Lamoignon Malesherbes. The Pentameron...

(The entire section is 484 words.)