A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Clare, John

Clare, John (1793-1864).—Poet, s. of a cripple pauper, was b. at Helpstone near Peterborough. His youth is the record of a noble struggle against adverse circumstances. With great difficulty he managed to save one pound, with which he was able to have a prospectus of his first book of poems printed, which led to an acquaintance with Mr. Drury, a bookseller in Stamford, by whose help the poems were pub., and brought him £20. The book, Poems descriptive of Rural Life (1820), immediately attracted attention. Various noblemen befriended him and stocked a farm for him. But unfortunately C. had no turn for practical affairs, and got into difficulties. He, however, continued to produce poetry, and in addition to The Village Minstrel, which had appeared in 1821, pub. The Shepherd's Calendar (1827), and Rural Muse (1835). Things, however, went on from bad to worse; his mind gave way, and he d. in an asylum. C. excels in description of rural scenes and the feelings and ideas of humble country life.