Biography of Matthew Arnold

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Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

Birth- Matthew Arnold was born on December 24, 1822 at Laleham in the valley of the Thames.

Family- His father’s name was Dr. Thomas Arnold (head master of Rughby School). Who was celebrated in the novel Tom Brown’s- ‘Schooldays.’ His father died suddenly of heart disease in 1842. His mother’s name was Mary Penrose Arnold. His father was an Anglican Clergyman.

Wife- Frances Lucy Wightman After marriage Frances Lucy Arnold

Children- He had 6 children-

  1-  Thomas

  2-  Trevenen William

  3-  Richard Penrose

  4-  Lucy Charlotte

  5-  Eleanore Mary Caroline

  6-  Basil Francis

Early Life and Education- In his childhood he attended the Reverend John Buckland’s Preparatory School. Later he studied at Rugby School and Balliol College Oxford. He matriculated at Balliol College. He wrote a poem ‘Cromwell’ and won the ‘Newdigate prize’. He had completed his graduation (B. A.) at Oxford in Balliol College in 1844 with second class honours in Literae Humaniores. He had a friend during college days with Arthur Hugh Clough.

After completing his education. He joined Rugby school as teacher of Classics. In 1845 Arnold was elected fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. He pursued his studies there with John Keble and John Henry Newman. He worked as an inspector of schools for 35 years. He was appointed as private secretary to Lord Lansdowne in 1847. Lansdowne helped him in securing an inspectorship of schools in 1851. In this way Arnold made himself strong his financial security and enabled him to marry Frances Lucy Wightman. She was the daughter of a judge of the Queen’s Bench. He anonymously published his first book of poetry ‘The Strayed Reveller’ in 1849. That was very sad Arnold’s close friend Wordsworth died in 1850. He composed a poem ‘Memorial Verses’ and published that in Fraser’s Magazine. His poem ‘Empedocles on Etna’ published in (1852) and Poems in (1853). These works established Arnold’s reputation as a poet. He was living in his childhood as a neighbor and close friend of William Wordsworth. He wrote verse for a family magazine and won school prizes for his poem ‘Alaric at Rome’. It was printed at Rugby.

Genre- Poetry; literary, social and religious criticism.

First Publication- ‘The Strayed Reveller’ published anonymously in 1849.

Literary Life- In 1852, Arnold published his second volume of poems ‘Empedocles on Etna’ and other poems. In 1853 he published Poems- ‘A New Edition’, It had volumes ‘The Scholar Gipsy’ and Sohrab and Rustum. Its second series appeared in 1854 with new poem, ‘Balder Dead’. In 1857 Arnold was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford and re-elected in 1862. He was the first professor to deliver lectures in English instead of Latin. He self published ‘The Popular Educational of France in 1861 and its introduction to which was later published under the title ‘Democracy’ in 1879. In 1865, Arnold published Essays in Criticism First Series and second series was not appeared till 1888. In 1866 he published his ‘Thyrsis’ dedicated to Clough died in 1861. His major work in social criticism ‘Culture and Anarchy’ was published in 1869.

His major work in religious criticism appeared in 1873. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the ‘American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ in 1883 when he was on the tour to United States and Canada. John Lane published an addition of Matthew Arnold’s poems in 1900 introduced by A. C. Benson in which Henry Ospovat was an illustrator.

He was sometimes called the third great poet of The Victorian Age, along with Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning.

Literary Criticism- He began his literary criticism with the ‘Preface to the Poems’ in late sixties. He published his ‘Lectures on Translating Homer’ in 1861, followed by ‘Last Words on Translating Homer’ in 1862. ‘Essay on Criticism’ in 1865 and ‘Culture and Anarchy’ in 1869.

Death- He was died of heart failure on April 15, 1888 at the age of 65 in Liverpool, England while running to catch a train. He was buried in the churchyard at Laleham.

Best Known For-

Dover Beach

The Scholar-Gipsy (Elegy)

Thyrsis (Elegy)

Culture and Anarchy

Literature and Dogma


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