Sir Edmund William Gosse // ; 21 September 1849 –16 May 1928) was an English poet, author and critic. He was strictly brought up in a small Protestant sect, the Plymouth Brethren, but broke away sharply from that faith. His account of his childhood in the book Father and Son has been described as the first psychological biography.(
His friendship with the sculptor Hamo Thornycroft inspired a successful career as a historian of late-Victorian sculpture. His translations of Henrik Ibsen helped to promote that playwright in England, and he encouraged the careers of W. B. Yeats and James Joyce. He also lectured in English literature at Cambridge University.
Gosse was the son of Philip Henry Gosse and Emily Bowes.His father was a naturalist and his mother an illustrator who published a number of books of poetry. Both were deeply committed to a small Protestant sect, the Plymouth Brethren. His childhood was initially happy as they spent their summers in Devon where his father was developing the ideas which gave rise to the craze for the marine aquarium. After his mother died of breast cancer when he was eight and they moved to Devon, his life with his father became increasingly strained by his father's expectations that he should follow in his religious tradition. Gosse was sent to a boarding school where he began to develop his own interests in literature. His father re-married in 1860 the deeply religious Quaker spinster Eliza Brightwen (1813–1900), whose brother Thomas tried to encourage Edmund to become a banker. He later gave an account of his childhood in the book Father and Son which has been described as the first psychological biography. At the age of 18 and working in the British Museum in London, he broke away from his father's influence in a dramatic coming of age.
Eliza Gosse's brother George was the husband of Eliza Elder Brightwen (1830–1906), a naturalist and author, whose first book was published in 1890.After Eliza Elder Brightwen's death, Edmund Gosse arranged for the publication of her two posthumous works Last Hours with Nature (1908) and Eliza Brightwen, the Life and Thoughts of a Naturalist (1909), both edited by W. H. Chesson, and the latter book with an introduction and epilogue by Gosse.
Gosse started his career as assistant librarian at the British Museum from 1867 alongside the songwriter Theo Marzials,a post which Charles Kingsley helped his father obtain for him. An early book of poetry published with a friend John Arthur Blaikie gave him an introduction to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Trips to Denmark and Norway in 1872–74, where he visited Hans Christian Andersen and Frederik Paludan-Müller, led to publishing success with reviews of Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in the Cornhill Magazine . He was soon reviewing Scandinavian literature in a variety of publications. He became acquainted with Alfred, Lord Tennyson and friends with Robert Browning, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Thomas Hardy and Henry James.
In the meantime, he published his first solo volume of poetry, On Viol and Flute (1873) and a work of criticism, Studies in the Literature of Northern Europe (1879). Gosse and Robert Louis Stevenson first met while teenagers, and after 1879, when Stevenson came to London on occasion, he would stay with Gosse and his family. In 1875 Gosse became a translator at the Board of Trade, a post which he held until 1904 and gave him time for his writingand enabled him to marry and start a family.
From 1884 to 1890, Gosse lectured in English literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, despite his own lack of academic qualifications. Cambridge University gave him an honorary MA in 1886, and Trinity College formally admitted him as a member, 'by order of the Council', in 1889.He made a successful American lecture tour in 1884 and was much in demand as a speaker and on committees as well as publishing a string of critical works as well as poetry and histories.
He became, in the 1880s, one of the most important art critics dealing with sculpture (writing mainly for the Saturday Review) with an interest spurred on by his intimate friendship with the sculptor Hamo Thornycroft. Gosse would eventually write the first history of the renaissance of late-Victorian sculpture in 1894 in a four-part series for The Art Journal , dubbing the movement the New Sculpture.
In 1904, he became the librarian of the House of Lords Library, where he exercised considerable influence till he retired in 1914. He wrote for the Sunday Times , and was an expert on Thomas Gray, William Congreve, John Donne, Jeremy Taylor, and Coventry Patmore. He can also take credit for introducing Henrik Ibsen's work to the British public. Gosse and William Archer collaborated in translating Hedda Gabler and The Master Builder ; those two translations were performed throughout the 20th century. Gosse and Archer, along with George Bernard Shaw, were perhaps the literary critics most responsible for popularising Ibsen's plays among English-speaking audiences. Gosse was instrumental in getting official financial support for two struggling Irish writers, WB Yeats in 1910 and James Joyce in 1915. This enabled both writers to continue their chosen careers.
His most famous book is the autobiographical Father and Son , about his troubled relationship with his Plymouth Brethren father, Philip, which was dramatised for television by Dennis Potter. Published anonymously in 1907, this followed a biography he had written of his father as naturalist, when he was urged by George Moore among others to write more about his own part. Historians caution, though, that notwithstanding its psychological insight and literary excellence, Gosse's narrative is often at odds with the verifiable facts of his own and his parents' lives.In later life, he became a formative influence on Siegfried Sassoon, the nephew of his lifelong friend, Hamo Thornycroft. Sassoon's mother was a friend of Gosse's wife, Ellen. Gosse was also closely tied to figures such as Algernon Charles Swinburne, John Addington Symonds, and André Gide.
Another work of his is The Autumn Garden, which was published in 1908 by the London publisher William Heinemann. This book includes: Proem, Lyrics in the Mood of Reflection, Sonnets, Songs of Roses, Commemorations and Inscriptions, Verses of Occasion, Paraphrases and a final Epilogue in the Autumn Garden. It contains more than 50 individual pieces within it.
He was the literary editor for the 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.
Gosse married Ellen Epps (23 March 1850 – 29 August 1929), a young painter in the Pre-Raphaelite circle, who was the daughter of George Napoleon Epps. Though she was initially determined to pursue her art, she succumbed to his determined courting and they married in August 1875, with a reception at the house of Lawrence Alma-Tadema (her brother-in-law) and visiting Gosse's parents (who did not attend the registry office wedding) at the end of their honeymoon in Devon and Cornwall. She continued to paint and wrote stories and reviews for various publications. In 1907, she inherited a sizeable fortune from her uncle, James Epps (the brother of John Epps and who had made his fortune in cocoa).
Theirs was a marriage lasting more than 50 years and they had three children, Emily Teresa (b. 1877), Philip Henry George (1879–1959) who became a physician (but is probably best known as the author of The Pirates' Who's Who (1924)) and Laura Sylvia (1881-1968), who became a well-known painter.
Despite a reportedly happy marriage Gosse had consistent, if deeply closeted, homosexual desires. Although initially reluctant to acknowledge these desires, in 1890 Gosse did acknowledge to John Addington Symonds, around the time the latter was working on A Problem in Modern Ethics, that indeed he (Gosse) was attracted to men, thus confirming suspicions Symonds had voiced earlier. "Either way, I entirely deeply sympathize with you. Years ago I wanted to write to you about all this," Gosse wrote to Symonds, "and withdrew through cowardice. I have had a very fortunate life, but there has been this obstinate twist in it! I have reached a quieter time—some beginnings of that Sophoclean period when the wild beast dies. He is not dead, but tamer; I understand him & the trick of his claws."
Gosse was named a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1912.He was knighted in 1925.
Philip Henry Gosse FRS, known to his friends as Henry, was an English naturalist and populariser of natural science, virtually the inventor of the seawater aquarium, and a painstaking innovator in the study of marine biology. Gosse created and stocked the first public aquarium at the London Zoo in 1853, and coined the term "aquarium" when he published the first manual, The Aquarium: An Unveiling of the Wonders of the Deep Sea, in 1854. His work was the catalyst for an aquarium craze in early Victorian England.
John Addington Symonds, Jr. was an English poet and literary critic. A cultural historian, he was known for his work on the Renaissance, as well as numerous biographies of writers and artists. Although married with children, Symonds supported male love (homosexuality), which he believed could include pederastic as well as egalitarian relationships, referring to it as l'amour de l'impossible. He also wrote much poetry inspired by his same-sex affairs.
Sir William Hamo Thornycroft was an English sculptor, responsible for some of London's best-known statues. He was a keen student of classical sculpture and became one of the youngest members of the Royal Academy.
Robert Herrick was a 17th-century English lyric poet and cleric. He is best known for Hesperides, a book of poems. This includes the carpe diem poem "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time", with the first line "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may".
William Archer was a Scottish writer, theatre critic, and English spelling reformer based, for most of his career, in London. He was an early advocate of the plays of Henrik Ibsen, and was an early friend and supporter of Bernard Shaw.
Theodore Watts-Dunton, from St Ives, Huntingdonshire, was an English poetry critic with major periodicals, and himself a poet. He is remembered particularly as the friend and minder of Algernon Charles Swinburne, whom he rescued from alcoholism and persuaded to continue writing.
Joseph Henry Shorthouse was an English novelist. His first novel, John Inglesant, was particularly admired as a "philosophical romance". It discusses a religious intrigue in the English 17th century.
Ann Thwaite is a British writer who is the author of five major biographies. AA Milne: His Life was the Whitbread Biography of the Year, 1990. Edmund Gosse: A Literary Landscape was described by John Carey as "magnificent - one of the finest literary biographies of our time". Glimpses of the Wonderful about the life of Edmund Gosse's father, Philip Henry Gosse, was picked out by D. J. Taylor in The Independent as one of the "Ten Best Biographies" ever. Frances Hodgson Burnett was originally published (1974) as Waiting for the Party and reissued in 2020 with the title Beyond the Secret Garden, with a foreword by Jacqueline Wilson. Emily Tennyson, The Poet's Wife (1996) was reissued by Faber Finds for the Tennyson bicentenary in 2009.
Father and Son (1907) is a memoir by poet and critic Edmund Gosse, which he subtitled "a study of two temperaments." Edmund had previously published a biography of his father, originally published anonymously. The book describes Edmund's early years in an exceptionally devout Plymouth Brethren home. His mother, who died early and painfully of breast cancer, was a writer of Christian tracts. His father, Philip Henry Gosse, was an influential, though largely self-taught, invertebrate zoologist and student of marine biology who, after his wife's death, took Edmund to live in Devon. The book focuses on the relationship between a sternly religious father who rejects the new evolutionary theories of his scientific colleague Charles Darwin and the son's gradual coming of age and rejection of his father's fundamentalist religion.
Omphalos: An Attempt to Untie the Geological Knot is a book by Philip Gosse, written in 1857, in which he argues that the fossil record is not evidence of evolution, but rather that it is an act of creation inevitably made so that the world would appear to be older than it is. The reasoning parallels the reasoning that Gosse chose to explain why Adam had a navel: Though Adam would have had no need of a navel, God gave him one anyway to give him the appearance of having a human ancestry. Thus, the name of the book, Omphalos, which means 'navel' in Greek.
Elizabethan literature refers to bodies of work produced during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603), and is one of the most splendid ages of English literature. In addition to drama and the theatre, it saw a flowering of poetry, with new forms like the sonnet, the Spenserian stanza, and dramatic blank verse, as well as prose, including historical chronicles, pamphlets, and the first English novels. Major writers include William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Richard Hooker, Ben Jonson, Philip Sidney and Thomas Kyd.
Nature writing is nonfiction or fiction prose or poetry about the natural environment. Nature writing encompasses a wide variety of works, ranging from those that place primary emphasis on natural history facts to those in which philosophical interpretation predominate. It includes natural history essays, poetry, essays of solitude or escape, as well as travel and adventure writing.
Laura Sylvia Gosse was an English painter and printmaker. She ran an art school with the painter Walter Sickert.
Robert Louis Peters was an American poet, critic, scholar, playwright, editor, and actor. He held a Ph.D in Victorian literature. Born in an impoverished rural area of northern Wisconsin in 1924, his poetry career began in 1967 when his young son Richard died unexpectedly of spinal meningitis. The book commemorating this loss, Songs for a Son, was selected by poet Denise Levertov to be published by W. W. Norton in 1967, and it still remains in print. Songs for a Son began a flood of poetry.
Emily Bowes Gosse was a Victorian painter and illustrator, and writer of evangelical Christian poems and tracts.
Helen Thornycroft was an English painter and watercolourist of the Victorian era.
Where Adam Stood is a television play by Dennis Potter, first broadcast on BBC 2 in 1976. It is a free adaptation, wholly shot on film, of Edmund Gosse's autobiographical book Father and Son (1907).
Eliza Brightwen née Elder was a Scottish naturalist and author. She was self-taught, and many of her observations were made in the grounds of The Grove in Stanmore, the estate outside London which she shared with her husband during his lifetime and where she lived as a widow. She was described in 1912, as "one of the most popular naturalists of her day".
Poems and Ballads, First Series is the first collection of poems by Algernon Charles Swinburne, published in 1866. The book was instantly popular, and equally controversial. Swinburne wrote about many taboo topics, such as lesbianism, sado-masochism, and anti-theism. The poems have many common elements, such as the Ocean, Time, and Death. Several historical persons are mentioned in the poems, such as Sappho, Anactoria, Jesus and Catullus.
Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He wrote several novels and collections of poetry such as Poems and Ballads, and contributed to the famous Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica.
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