Authors: Walter Savage Landor

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English poet

Author Works

Poetry:

The Poems of Walter Savage Landor, 1795

Gebir: A Poem, in Seven Books, 1798

Poems from the Arabic and Persian, 1800

Poetry by the Author of Gebir, 1800

Gebirus, Poema, 1803

Count Julian, 1812 (verse drama)

Idyllia Nova Quinque Heroum atque Heroidum, 1815

Idyllia Heroica Decem Librum Phaleuciorum Unum, 1820

Andrea of Hungary, 1839 (verse drama)

Giovanna of Naples, 1839 (verse drama)

Fra Rupert: The Last Part of a Trilogy, 1840 (verse drama)

The Siege of Ancona, 1846 (verse drama)

The Hellenics Enlarged and Completed, 1847

Poemata et Inscriptiones, 1847

Italics of Walter Savage Landor, 1848

The Last Fruit off an Old Tree, 1853

Heroic Idyls, with Additional Poems, 1863

The Poetical Works of Walter Savage Landor, 1937 (Stephen Wheeler, editor)

Long Fiction:

Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen, 1824-1829 (5 volumes)

Pericles and Aspasia, 1836

The Pentameron and Pentalogia, 1837

Short Fiction:

Dry Sticks Fagoted, 1858

Nonfiction:

Citation and Examination of William Shakespeare, 1834

Miscellaneous:

The Complete Works of Walter Savage Landor, 1927-1936 (16 volumes; Thomas E. Welby and Stephen Wheeler, editors)

Walter Savage Landor: Selected Poetry and Prose, 1981 (Keith Hanley, editor)

Biography

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.{$I[AN]9810000533}{$I[A]Landor, Walter Savage}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Landor, Walter Savage}{$I[tim]1775;Landor, Walter Savage}

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 and Pentalogia records conversations between Boccaccio and Petrarch. Pericles and Aspasia purports to be an exchange of letters that mirror the life of Athens in its golden age.

Landor’s career continued stormily, and in his old age he became embroiled in litigation over libelous writings as well as his contested estate. During these later years he wrote many of his Latin poems and epigrams as well as dramatic dialogues. He was friendly with such writers as Robert Southey, Charles Lamb, and Robert Browning, and for a time he carried on a literary feud with Lord Byron. Always the hothead and incendiary, he was in turn gentle to children and animals, a nature lover, and generous to a fault. He died in Florence, Italy, September 17, 1864.

His literary life, from the time he was twenty until he was nearly ninety, is hard to assess. He was a stylist in the Latin tradition, coming midway between John Milton and Percy Bysshe Shelley. His drama, like that of the later Victorians, was interesting as poetry but unplayable, and his poetry sometimes degenerated into banal verse, though at its best it was heightened to sublimity. As an essayist he was irreproachable, Swiftian, satiric, and incisive in his praise or condemnation. He paid tribute to the younger literary figures of his day before they were generally recognized.

There has been a revival of interest in Landor; this, certainly, is only poetic justice, for he remains one of the great eccentrics in English literature and a fascinating personality.

BibliographyDilworth, Ernest. Walter Savage Landor. New York: Twayne, 1974. An excellent critical introduction for those unfamiliar with Landor’s work. The author points out the poet’s aims and achievements as well as his shortcomings in style and substance. Frequent quotations support the text and a chronology, notes, references, and an excellent select bibliography are included.Field, Jean. Landor. Studley, Warwickshire, England: Brewin Books, 2000. A biography of Landor with a selection of his works. Includes bibliographical references and index.Hanley, Keith. Introduction to Walter Savage Landor: Selected Poetry and Prose. Manchester, England: Carcanet Press, 1981. Discusses Landor’s role as a neoclassicist, the art of imitation, the classical structure of feeling, and his poetic style.Pinsky, Robert. Landor’s Poetry. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968. This analysis of about twenty poems explores, among other things, Landor’s repeated use of subjects and gives a fair picture of his poetic artistry. The author defends Landor and makes a case for the intellectual content of the poems. Some of the lesser verse is shown to have real artistry behind it. Special attention is paid to an analysis of Landor’s use of rhythms. Omitted in the discussion are Landor’s tributes to other writers.Super, Robert H. Walter Savage Landor: A Biography. New York: New York University Press, 1954. This lengthy, definitive biography replete with accurate detail includes material and documents hitherto ignored or undiscovered. The author corrects previous carelessness, errors in chronology, and other distortions. This fine example of biographical scholarship includes an index and an extensive system of notes and references displaying the meticulous accuracy seen throughout.
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