Aldjernon Suinbern

Aldjernon Suinbern

English poet
Date of Birth: 05.04.1837
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of Algernon Swinburne
  2. Meeting with Giuseppe Mazzini
  3. Friendship with T. Watts-Dunton
  4. Spiritual Biography
  5. Prolific Poet
  6. Critic and Scholar

Biography of Algernon Swinburne

Algernon Swinburne was an English poet, renowned for his bold experiments in poetry. He was born into the family of Admiral Charles Swinburne and Lady Jane, daughter of the Earl of Ashburnham. After studying for several years at Eton College, he entered Balliol College, Oxford University, where he became acquainted with D.G. Rossetti, W. Morris, and E. Burne-Jones. In 1860, he left the university and moved to London, where he resided until 1879.

Meeting with Giuseppe Mazzini

In March 1867, Swinburne met Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini, who inspired him to celebrate human freedom and the ideals of Risorgimento – the liberation movement for the unification of Italy.

Friendship with T. Watts-Dunton

In 1879, Swinburne, who was struggling with alcoholism, was saved by his lawyer and close friend T. Watts-Dunton. Watts-Dunton took him into his home in Putney, where Swinburne spent thirty years under his caring supervision.

Spiritual Biography

Swinburne's spiritual biography can be divided into four stages. In his youth, he was an ardent adherent of the Anglican Church. During his time at Oxford, he became an agnostic, a belief he maintained throughout his life. His poems from the early 1860s, such as the poetic drama "Atalanta in Calydon" and the collection "Poems and Ballads," were dominated by feelings of bitterness, despair, and a longing for death. Around ten years after meeting Mazzini, Swinburne considered himself a positivist, and in the 1870s, he began to lean towards stoicism.

Prolific Poet

Swinburne remains one of the most prolific and versatile English poets. He wrote twelve poetic plays, including "Atalanta in Calydon" (1865) and "Erechtheus" (1876), which revived the form of ancient Greek tragedy. He also wrote a historical trilogy about Mary Stuart – "Chastelard" (1865), "Bothwell" (1874), and "Mary Stuart" (1871). His epistolary novel, "A Year's Letters," was published in separate installments in 1877 and later reissued in 1904 as "Love's Cross-Currents." Extracts from his second novel, "Lesbia Brandon," were not published until 1952. Swinburne also wrote satirical pamphlets in French and poetry in French, Latin, and Greek. Between 1866 and 1904, he published 14 poetry collections.

Critic and Scholar

Swinburne also published more than ten critical works. His studies on English playwrights of the Elizabethan era and the reign of King James I revealed him not only as a talented poet and critic but also as a thoughtful researcher of literature and history with a deep understanding of past epochs. Victor Hugo occupied a significant place in Swinburne's literary criticisms, as he wrote extensively about him. He also focused on 19th-century English poetry, particularly the works of William Blake and Percy Bysshe Shelley. The Bible and the poetry of Hugo and Shelley played a crucial role in shaping Swinburne's poetic style. His poems stood out from contemporary English poetry primarily due to his virtuoso use of alliteration and anapestic rhythms. Swinburne consciously pushed the boundaries of conventional high literature, justifying and implementing in his poetic practice the right to explore previously forbidden areas, such as the psychology of sexual desire.