Gray, Thomas


Gray, Thomas
(1716-1771)
   Born in London into a prosperous family, he was a studious boy who disliked the sports ethos of Eton College, where he was educated from the age of eight. He was at Peterhouse College, Cambridge, between 1734-1738 but left without a degree and accompanied Horace Walpole on a grand tour of France, Switzerland, and Italy at Sir Robert Walpole's expense. By 1742 he had settled in Peterhouse, Cambridge, and in 1756, he moved to Pembroke College, Cambridge. His poems attracted little attention until "An Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard" was published in 1751. He buried himself in studying Celtic, Scandinavian, Gaelic and Welsh poetry. Upon the death of Colley Cibber in 1757, Gray declined the laureateship. He died at Cambridge and was buried in the country churchyard at Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, celebrated in his "Elegy." He is commemorated by a bust in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. Some of his poems: "Bard," "The [A Pindaric Ode] Hymn to Adversity," "Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College," "The Candidate," "The Curse upon Edward," "The Death of Hoel," "The Descent of Odin."
   Sources: Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads. Alan Lomax and John A. Lomax, eds. Macmillan, 1967. Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. English Poetry: Author Search. Chadwyck-Healey Ltd., 1995 (http://www.lib.utexas.edu:8080/search/epoetry/author.html). Golden Treasury of the Best Songs and Lyrical Poems in the English Language. Francis Turner Palgrave, ed. Oxford University Press (1964, Sixth edition, updated by John Press, 1994). Gray's English Poems: Original and Translated from the Norse and the Welsh. D.C. Tovey, ed. Reprint Services, 1922. The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). The New Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1950. Helen Gardner, ed. Oxford University Press, 1972. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000. Westminster Abbey Official Guide (no date).

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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