A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Bailey, Philip James

Bailey, Philip James (1816-1902).—Poet, s. of a journalist, b. at Nottingham, and ed. there and at Glasgow, of which he was made an LL.D. in 1891. His life was a singularly uneventful one. He lived at Nottingham, Jersey, Ilfracombe, London, and again at Nottingham, where he d. He travelled a good deal on the Continent. He was by profession a barrister, but never practised, and devoted his whole energies to poetry. His first poem, Festus (1839), is, for the daring of its theme and the imaginative power and moral altitude which it displays, one of the most notable of the century; as the work of one little past boyhood it is a prodigy of intellectual precocity. Along with its great qualities it has many faults in execution, and its final place in literature remains to be determined. It was pub. anonymously, and had great success, but has fallen into unmerited, but perhaps temporary, neglect. Among its greatest admirers was Tennyson. The subsequent poems of B., The Angel World (1850), The Mystic (1855), The Age (1858), and The Universal Hymn (1867), were failures, and the author adopted the unfortunate expedient of endeavouring to buoy them up by incorporating large extracts in the later editions of Festus, with the effect only of sinking the latter, which ultimately extended to over 40,000 lines. B. was a man of strikingly handsome appearance, and gentle and amiable character.