William Shenstone (1760), oil on canvas painted by Edward Alcock
|Born||18 November 1714|
|Died||February 11, 1763 48)(aged|
|Resting place||St John the Baptist Church, Halesowen|
|Occupation||Poet, landscape gardener|
|Alma mater||Pembroke College, Oxford|
|Notable works||The Schoolmistress|
William Shenstone (18 November 1714 – 11 February 1763) was an English poet and one of the earliest practitioners of landscape gardening through the development of his estate, The Leasowes .
The Leasowes is a 57-hectare estate in Halesowen, historically in the county of Shropshire, England, comprising house and gardens. The parkland is now listed Grade I on English Heritage's Register of Parks and Gardens and the home of the Halesowen Golf Club. The name means "rough pasture land".
Son of Thomas Shenstone and Anne Penn, daughter of William Penn of Harborough Hall, then in Hagley (now Blakedown), Shenstone was born at the Leasowes, Halesowen on 18 November 1714.At that time this was an enclave of Shropshire within the county of Worcestershire and now in the West Midlands. Shenstone received part of his formal education at Halesowen Grammar School (now The Earls High School). In 1741, Shenstone became bailiff to the feoffees of Halesowen Grammar School.
Hagley is a village and civil parish in Worcestershire, England. It is on the boundary of the West Midlands and Worcestershire counties between the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley and Kidderminster. As of December 2016 it had an estimated population of 6,097.
Blakedown is a village in the Wyre Forest District in the north of the county of Worcestershire, England. Due to its road and rail links it serves mainly as a dormitory village for Kidderminster, and the cities of Birmingham and Worcester. Originally part of Hagley Parish, it was transferred in 1888 to the small adjacent parish of Churchill, which became Churchill and Blakedown.
Halesowen is a town in the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley, in the county of West Midlands, England.
While attending Solihull School, he began a lifelong friendship with Richard Jago. He went up to Pembroke College, Oxford in 1732 and made another firm friend there in Richard Graves, the author of The Spiritual Quixote.
Solihull School is a coeducational independent school situated near the centre of Solihull, West Midlands, England. Founded in 1560, it is the oldest school in the town and is a member of the HMC.
Richard Jago was an English clergyman poet and minor landscape gardener from Warwickshire. Although his writing was not highly regarded by contemporaries, some of it was sufficiently novel to have several imitators.
Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. The college was founded in 1624 by King James I of England / VI of Scotland, using in part the endowment of merchant Thomas Tesdale, and was named after William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, Lord Chamberlain and then-Chancellor of the University.
Shenstone took no degree, but, while still at Oxford, he published Poems on various occasions, written for the entertainment of the author (1737). This edition was intended for private circulation only but, containing the first draft of The Schoolmistress, it attracted some wider attention. Shenstone tried hard to suppress it but in 1742 he published anonymously a revised draft of The Schoolmistress, a Poem in imitation of Spenser. The inspiration of the poem was Sarah Lloyd, teacher of the village school where Shenstone received his first education. Isaac D'Israeli contended that Robert Dodsley had been misled in publishing it as one of a sequence of Moral Poems, its intention having been satirical, as evidenced by the ludicrous index appended to its original publication.
Isaac D'Israeli was a British writer, scholar and man of letters. He is best known for his essays, his associations with other men of letters, and as the father of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.
Robert Dodsley was an English bookseller, poet, playwright, and miscellaneous writer.
Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts, in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations, government, or society itself into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.
In 1741 he published The Judgment of Hercules. He inherited the Leasowes estate, and retired there in 1745 to undertake what proved the chief work of his life, the beautifying of his property. He embarked on elaborate schemes of landscape gardening which gave The Leasowes a wide celebrity (see ferme ornée ), but sadly impoverished the owner. Shenstone was not a contented recluse. He desired constant admiration of his gardens, and he never ceased to lament his lack of fame as a poet.
The term ferme ornée as used in English garden history derives from Stephen Switzer's term for 'ornamented farm'. It describes a country estate laid out partly according to aesthetic principles and partly for farming. During the eighteenth century the original ferme ornée was Woburn Farm, made by Philip Southcote, who bought the property in 1734. William Shenstone's garden at The Leasowes was also a ferme ornée. Marie Antoinette made a later example at Versailles in the form of le Petit hameau, created between 1783 and 1787, but it was much more for pleasure than for food production. The Dessau-Wörlitz Garden Realm was said to be the largest 'ferme ornée' in 18th-century Europe. The most complete surviving example is said to be Larchill near Kilcock, Ireland.
In 1759, Shenstone made the acquaintance of James Woodhouse, a shoe-maker from nearby Rowley Regis who had started writing poetry. Shenstone encouraged Woodhouse's literary efforts, allowing him access to the library at the Leasowes and including one of Woodhouse's works in a collection of poems published in 1762.
James Woodhouse 1735-1820 was an English poet from the Black Country village of Rowley Regis. He was known as the "shoe-maker poet" from his trade that supported him during his early years. He made the acquaintance of the poet William Shenstone, who lived nearby, and was encouraged by him to write poetry. In 1764 a collection of his poems was published with the financial assistance of his friends and he acquired some fame as a writer of "humble" beginnings. His final years were spent in London, where he set up a bookselling business. He died in 1820 and was buried at the cemetery of St George's Chapel, near Marble Arch in London.
Shenstone died unmarried on 11 February 1763.
Shenstone's poems of nature were written in praise of his most artificial aspects, but the emotions they express were obviously genuine. His Schoolmistress was admired by Oliver Goldsmith, with whom Shenstone had much in common, and his Elegies written at various times and to some extent biographical in character won the praise of Robert Burns who, in the preface to Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (1786), called him ... that celebrated poet whose divine elegies do honour to our language, our nation and our species. The best example of purely technical skill in his works is perhaps his success in the management of the anapaestic trimeter in his Pastoral Ballad in Four Parts (written in 1743), but first printed in Dodsley's Collection of Poems (vol. iv., 1755).
Arthur Schopenhauer mentions Shenstone in his discussion of equivocation. "[C]oncepts", Schopenhauer asserted, "which in and by themselves contain nothing improper, yet the actual case brought under them leads to an improper conception" are called equivocations.He continued:
But a perfect specimen of a sustained and magnificent equivocation is Shenstone's incomparable epitaph on a justice of the peace, which in its high-sounding lapidary style appears to speak of noble and sublime things, whereas under each of their concepts something quite different is to be subsumed, which appears only in the last word of all as the unexpected key to the whole, and the reader discovers with loud laughter that he has read merely a very obscene equivocation.
Shenstone's works were first published by his friend Robert Dodsley (3 vols., 1764–1769). The second volume contains Dodsley's description of the Leasowes. The last, consisting of correspondence with Graves, Jago and others, appeared after Dodsley's death. Other letters of Shenstone's are included in Select Letters (ed. Thomas Hill 1778). The letters of Lady Luxborough (née Henrietta St John) to Shenstone were printed by T. Dodsley in 1775; much additional correspondence is preserved in the British Museum letters to Lady Luxborough (Add. MS. 28958), Dodsley's letters to Shenstone (Add. MS. 28959), and correspondence between Shenstone and Bishop Percy from 1757 to 1763 the last being of especial interest; To Shenstone was due the original suggestion of Percy's Reliques, a service which would alone entitle him to a place among the precursors of the romantic movement in English literature.
In a letter written in 1741 Shenstone became the first person to record the use of "floccinaucinihilipilification". In the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary this was recognised as the longest word in the English language.[ citation needed ]
Richard Graves was an English minister, poet, and novelist.
John Scott, known as Scott of Amwell, was an English landscape gardener and writer on social matters. He was also the first notable Quaker poet, although in modern times he is remembered for only one anti-militarist poem.
Ullenhall is a village and civil parish in the Stratford district of Warwickshire, England, situated about 2 miles (3.2 km) West of Henley in Arden and 11.2 miles (18.0 km) West of the county town of Warwick. The population of the civil parish as taken at the 2011 census was 717. The name means Ulla's nook, the Old English word hahl, meaning a nook or corner of land, suggesting the hollow in which the village is situated, being compounded with a personal name of Scandinavian origin.
Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.
Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.
Joseph Spence was a historian, literary scholar and anecdotist, most famous for his collection of anecdotes that are an invaluable resource for historians of 18th-century English literature.
James Merrick (1720–1769) was an English poet and scholar; M.A. Trinity College, Oxford, 1742: fellow, 1745: ordained, but lived in college. It is said that "[h]e entered into holy orders, but never could engage in parochial duty, from being subject to excessive pains in his head". He published poems, including The Chameleon; translated from the Greek and advocated the compilation and amalgamation of indexes to the principal Greek authors; versified the Psalms, several editions of which were set to music. His work was featured in Oxford religious poetry anthologies.
Robert Knight, 1st Earl of Catherlough, KB, (1702–1772), was a British Member of Parliament for Great Grimsby, Castle Rising, Norfolk (1747–54) and Milborne Port, Somerset (1770–72). He became successively Baron Luxborough (1745), Viscount Barrells and Earl of Catherlough, all titles within the peerage of Ireland. His wife, Henrietta Lady Luxborough, later became well known as a lady of letters, poet and pioneering landscape gardener.
Amos Green (1735–1807) was an English painter.
John Scott Hylton was an English antiquary and poet, and a member of the Shenstone circle of writers that gathered around the poet and landscape gardener William Shenstone.
The Shenstone Circle, also known as the Warwickshire Coterie, was a literary circle of poets living in and around Birmingham in England from the 1740s to the 1760s. At its heart lay the poet and landscape gardener William Shenstone, who lived at The Leasowes in Halesowen to the west of Birmingham, and whose role as patron and mentor to Midlands poets saw him compared to the Roman patron of the arts Gaius Maecenas. Members of the group included Shenstone's near neighbour in Halesowen John Scott Hylton; John Pixell of Edgbaston; William Somervile of Edstone in Warwickshire; Lady Luxborough of Barrells Hall near Henley-in-Arden; Richard Jago of Snitterfield, whom Shenstone knew from their time together at Solihull School and John Perry of Clent.
John Dalton (1709–1763) was an English cleric and poet. He is now remembered as a librettist.
Henrietta Knight, Lady Luxborough, was an English poet and letter writer.
Hagley Park is the estate of Hagley Hall in Worcestershire, England. The grounds comprise 350 acres (1.4 km2) of undulating deer park on the lower slopes of the Clent Hills. They were redeveloped and landscaped between about 1739 and 1764, with follies designed by John Pitt, Thomas Pitt, James "Athenian" Stuart, and Sanderson Miller. Planned as part of an 18th-century enthusiasm for landscape gardening, especially among poets, the park brought many distinguished literary visitors to admire the views, as well as poetic tributes to their beauty and Classical taste.
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