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.)