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Henry Kirke White

Henry Kirke White (March 21, 1785 - October 19, 1806) was an English poet.

He was born at Nottingham, the son of a butcher, a trade for which he was himself intended. After being briefly apprenticed to a stocking-weaver, he was articled to a lawyer. Meanwhile he studied hard, and his master offered to release him from his contract if he had sufficient means to go to college. He received encouragement from Capel Lofft, the friend of Robert Bloomfield, and published in 1803 Clifton Grove, a Sketch in Verse, with other Poems, dedicated to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. The book was violently attacked in the Monthly Review (February 1804), but White was rewarded with a kind letter from Robert Southey.

Through the efforts of his friends, he was able to enter St John's College, Cambridge, having spent a year beforehand with a private tutor. Close application to study induced a serious illness, and fears were entertained for his sanity, but he went into residence at Cambridge, with a view to taking holy orders, in the autumn of 1805. The strain of continuous study proved fatal. He was buried in the church of All Saints, Cambridge. The genuine piety of his religious verses secured a place in popular hymnology for some of his hymns. Much of his fame was due to sympathy inspired by his early death, but it is noteworthy that Lord Byron agreed with Southey about the young man's promise.

His Remains, with his letters and an account of his life, were edited (5 vols., 1807-1822) by Robert Southey. See prefatory notices by Sir Harris Nicolas to his Poetical Works (new ed., 1866) in the Aldine Press British poets; by HK Swann in the volume of selections (1897) in the Canterbury Poets; and by John Drinkwater to the edition in the "Muses' Library." See also JT Godfrey and J Ward, The Homes and Haunts of Henry Kirke White (1908).

Reference
  • This entry incorporates public domain text originally from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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