Lascelles Abercrombie 1881-1938

Lascelles Abercrombie was born in Ashton upon Mersey, near Liverpool in 1881, the son of a stockbroker. He was educated at Malvern College and Owens College, now part of Manchester University. After graduating he worked as a clerk in a quantity surveying firm in Liverpool and later as a journalist for the Liverpool Courier.

His first love was poetry however and prior to WWI he lived in Dymock, Gloucestershire among a community of poets which included Rupert Brooke, John Drinkwater, Edward Thomas, Wilfred Owen and Robert Frost, a group known as the Georgian Poets whose work was characterised by realism. He published two volumes of poetry before the war, Interludes and Poems in 1908 and Mary and the Bramble two years later and a poetic drama, The Sale of St Thomas, which was not published until 1931. He also wrote several critical works such as Thomas Hardy: A Critical Study (1912) and Poetry and Contemporary Speech (1914).

He got married to Catherine Gwatkin in 1909 and they were to have four children. During WWI he worked as a munitions examiner in Liverpool, having been declared unfit for active service. After the war he entered academia, his first appointment being a lectureship in poetry at Liverpool University. He later held professorship posts at the universities of Leeds and London and in 1935 the prestigious Goldsmith’s Readership at Oxford University where he was elected a Fellow of Merton College. During this inter-war period he published several more critical studies including The Theory of Poetry (1924) and Principles of Literary Criticism (1932) as well as two further volumes of poetry, Twelve Idylls and Other Poems (1928) and Collected poems (1930).

In 1931 he travelled with his wife to Skyros in Greece to deliver an oration to a statue of his great friend Rupert Brooke who had died during the war. He had shortly after Brooke’s death written an obituary of him for the Morning Post and a poem entitled R B. Abercromie was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1937, the year before he died, aged 57. His poetry was widely admired in the first few years of the 19th Century for its lyric power, precise, vivid imagery, love of natural beauty and mysticism. A volume of his poetry, Lyrics and Unfinished Poems, was published posthumously in 1940. One of his best-regarded poems is Ryton Firs.

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