Beddoes, Thomas Lovell
30 June 1803 - 26 January 1849
British poet and dramatist, remembered these days as much for his death obsession and his manic depressive tendencies (probably abetted by frustrated homosexuality and culminating in his suicide by poison) as his literary achievement; as far as the latter is concerned, he produced some wonderfully atmospheric "Gothic" poems that are quite a bit better than the usual run of such works one encounters among the creations of lesser-known C19 authors. Beddoes, whose life was almost as Gothic as his darkest literary creations, is a writer who deserves to be better known, especially (but not only) among fans of the Gothic.
Born into a literary family — his mother was the sister of the novelist Maria Edgeworth and his father (a physician, scientist, and radical educator) a friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge — Beddoes was educated at Oxford and, like his literary hero Percy Bysshe Shelley, published his first book, a Gothic romp entitled The Improvisatore, while still an undergraduate. His next work, The Bride's Tragedy (1822), follows in the tradition of the revenge drama, and was heavily influenced by Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers; it had the further distinction of being the only financial success Beddoes ever had. He spent most of his adult life in various cities in Continental Europe (once being banished from Göttingen because of drunkenness, later being banished from Bavaria and Sweden for radical political activity), studying medicine and anatomy as well as writing. Most of his literary energy was devoted to Death's Jest-Book, begun in 1828 and never published in Beddoes' lifetime; a complicated, sprawling, and not overly coherent work, it features most of Beddoes' favorite themes: necromancy, occultism, the supernatural, anatomy, and revenge, among other delights....
"Old Adam, the Carrion Crow" [1825-28]
A brief extract from Death's Jest-Book.
The Bride's Tragedy
"A Clock Striking Midnight"
"Song: A Cypress-Bough, and A Rose-Wreath Sweet"
This poem, like "Dirge and Hymeneal" below, features a very Beddoes-esque linking of funereal and wedding imagery. As Goth as it gets, from a man who was Goth more than 150 years before Goth was cool...
"Dirge" ("Let Dew...")
"Dirge and Hymeneal"
"Dream of Dying"
"The Ghost's Moonshine"
"Lines ('Mummies and Skeletons')"
"The Old Ghost"
"The Phantom Wooer"
"Poor Old Pilgrim Misery"
"Song of a Maid whose Love is Dead"
"Song on the Water"
"Voices in the Air"
This brief poem is an extract from Death's Jest-Book
More Beddoes poems
a number of shorter works, including "The Last Man" and "Dream of Dying" (linked above). All in one file. [Romantic Circles]
Essays and Reviews:
"Thomas Lovell Beddoes."