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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

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Listings for Author:  

William Cowper


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William Cowper : unknown

'My father reads Cowper to us in the evening, to which I listen when I can.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: George Austen      Print: Book


William Cowper : The Negro's complaint

Complete transcript of Cowper's poem.

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Anon      


William Cowper : My Father! When I learned that thou was Dead

Transcription of Cowper's poem and ''By W. Cowper'.

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: B.A.T. Herbert      


William Cowper : 

Continued Perry's French Revolution and read Cowper

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: I.G.      Print: Book


William Cowper : The Task, Book IV

I never framed a wish or formed a plan that flattered mewith hopes of earthly bliss. But thou wert there. [rewriting of lines 695-697 of Book IV]

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: member of Carey/Maingay group     


William Cowper : 

'Shakespeare incited his appetite for poetry: Cowper, Pope, Dryden, Goldsmith, Thomson, Byron. Not only were they more interesting than the fifty volumes of Wesley's Christian Library: eventually Barker realised that "the reason why I could not understand them was, that there was nothing to be understood - that the books were made up of words, and commonplace errors and mystical and nonsensical expressions, and that there was no light or truth in them". When his superintendent searched his lodgings and found Shakespeare and Byron there, Barker was hauled before a disciplinary committee'.

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Joseph Barker      Print: Book


William Cowper : On the Loss of the Royal George

'Shortly after its first appearance in Hayley's Life and Posthumous Writings of Cowper (1803), Lamb copied ... out ['On the Loss of the Royal George'] in a letter to W[ordsworth] of 5 March ... On 31 March Lamb copied the same poem into C[oleridge]'s notebook.'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Charles Lamb      Print: Book


William Cowper : Friendship

In letter to Edward Noel Long, 23 February 1807 Byron transcribes lines 91-96 of William Cowper, "Friendship" (as in 1803 edition of poem).

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: George Gordon, Lord Byron      


William Cowper : 

'orphanage boy Thomas Burke... devoured books until "my mind became a lumber room". Inevitably, "criticism was beyond me; the hungry man has no time for the fastidiousness of the epicure. I was hypnotised by the word Poet. A poem by Keats (some trifle never meant for print) was a poem by Keats. Pope, Cowper and Kirke White and Mrs Hemans and Samuel Rogers were Poets. That was enough."'

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Thomas Burke      Print: Unknown


William Cowper : 

'[J.M. Dent's] reading was marked by the autodidact's characteristic enthusiasm and spottiness. He knew Pilgrim's Progress, Milton, Cowper, Thomson's Seasons and Young's Night Thoughts; but...did not read Shakespeare seriously until he was nearly thirty'.

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Joseph Malaby Dent      Print: Book


William Cowper : Retirement

[Letter to Sarah Maclean, dated Monday 21 June 1824] Your being so fond of Cowper tells me half of your character- How passing sweet were solitude with such an one! "Well born- apart from vulgar minds- the polish of the manners clear" '[quotation from lines 728-733 of'Retirement' by Cowper].

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Anne Lister      Print: Book


William Cowper : poetry

' ... [13-to-14-year-old Constance Maynard's] most intimate contact with reading .. took place ... in a secluded corner of the garden, where she haphazardly consumed Milton's sonnets, Cowper, Irving's Orations, and Tennyson ...'

Century: 1850-1899 / 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Constance Maynard      Print: Book


William Cowper : 

"The popular religious poet Frances Ridley Havergal claimed 'I do not think I was eight when I hit upon Cowper's lines, ending 'My father made them all!' That was what I wanted above all to be able to say ...'"

Century: 1800-1849 / 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Frances Ridley Havergal      Print: Unknown


William Cowper : The Task

H. J. Jackson notes political and critical remarks added by Anna Seward to copy of William Cowper, The Task.

Century: 1700-1799 / 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Anna Seward      Print: Book


William Cowper : 

'Soon Pritchett was reading Penny Poets editions of "Paradise Regained", Wordsworth's "Prelude", Cowper, and Coleridge. He formulated plans to become Poet Laureate by age twenty-one'.

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Victor Sawdon Pritchett      Print: Book


William Cowper : [poems]

?The gentle Cowper was my earliest favourite, a small second-hand copy of his poems, which I bought for eighteen pence, being the first book I bought for myself. It emptied my pocket, but I walked home, as I had walked to Newcastle (a distance some eighteen miles to and fro) with a light head, now and then reading as I fared along. Longfellow, Pope, Milton, Wordsworth and other poets were soon afterwards added to my little collection. I read them all. Many passages have clung to my memory, a life-long possession, giving, with their music, sometimes inspiration, sometimes solace in the conflicts and sorrows of life.?

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Thomas Burt      Print: Book


William Cowper : 

'In Dublin, she complained that she was not reading a great deal, but in the same breath remarked that books provided her only relaxation. She must have at least browsed in the volume of Cowper's poems and another of sermons by her friend John Hewlett which Johnson sent her. She told Everina at one point that she was reading "some philosophical lectures, and metaphysical sermons - for my own private improvement". These works could well have included the writings of Dr Price. The only writer in this field whom she singled out for comment, however, was the orthodox William Paley, whose "Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy" she commended to Eliza for its definition of virtue: "the doing good to mankind in obedience to the will of God, and for the sake of everlasting happiness".'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Mary Wollstonecraft      Print: Book


William Cowper : [Poems]

'It was about this time that I first read that very beautiful poem, "The Pleasures of Hope". I also repersued a large portion of Cowper's Poems; and, in spite of the unfavourable accounts of it given by critics, resolved upon reading Thomson's "Liberty". This resolution I carried into effect, to my very considerable amusement, if not instruction. As to its poetical merits, I did not venture to sit in judgement upon them.'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Thomas Carter      Print: Book


William Cowper : The Task

'I could not do without a Syringa, for the sake of Cowper's Line.'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Jane Austen      Print: Book


William Cowper : An Epistle to Joseph Hill Esq.

'Change will befall, and friend may part But distance only cannot change the heart'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Molineux group, including Mrs Molineux     


William Cowper : Ode to Peace

'Ode to Peace' 'Come; Peace of Mind, delightful quest/...'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Molineux group, including Mrs Molineux     


William Cowper : Verses supposed to have been written by Alexander Selkirk

'I am now alone in the Library, Mistress of all I survey - at least I may say so & repeat the whole poem if I like it, without offence to anybody.'

Century: 1700-1799 / 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Jane Austen      Print: Book


William Cowper : The task

Letter to Miss Dunbar May 1802 [see note] 'I will give you my opinion, such as it will be after a hasty perusal, of the poem you had the goodness to send me; but you in return must give me yours of Dr. Cowper?s Malachi. I did not tell you how very ill I have been of the Cowper mania. I do not mean the doctor, but the delightful author of The task. Read his letters by Hayley, and his life, as I did, and you will find them "Of power to take the captive soul/ And lap it in Elysium."'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Anne Grant [nee MacVicar]      Print: Book


William Cowper : The Task, Part III (The Garden)

' What else? Yes, I have read Cowper: "The stable yields a stercoraceous heap...." It bears an unpleasant resemblance to The Land, doesn't it? But it has its good moments, "While fancy, like the finger of a clock, Runs the great circuit, and is still at home." I read Les faux-monnayeurs too. I remember you said you didn't like it. Yet I wonder you weren't interested by the method of springing decisive events on the reader, without the usual psychological preparation. I thought it gave a stange effect of real life. I liked it better than Si le grain ne meurt, in which I liked only the beginning of the 3rd third volume, about the French litterateurs;'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Vita Sackville-West      Print: Book


William Cowper : unknown

Saturday 7 September 1935: 'A heavenly quiet morning reading Alfieri by the open window & not smoking [...] I've stopped 2 days now The Years [novel in progress]:& feel the power to settle, calmly & firmly on books coming back at once. John Bailey's life, come today, makes me doubt though -- what? Everything [...] I've only just glanced & got the smell of Lit. dinner. Lit. Sup, Lit this that & the other -- & the one remark to the effect that Virginia Woolf, of all people, has been given Cowper by Desmond [MacCarthy], & likes it! I, who read Cowper when I was 15 -- d----d nonsense.'

Century: 1850-1899     Reader/Listener/Group: Virginia Stephen      Print: Book


William Cowper : The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer, Translated into English Blank Verse

Robert Southey to Horace Walpole Bedford, 30-31 December 1793: '1/2 past 4. I have been reading Cowpers Homer & much satisfaction has the perusal afforded me. a quotation I had occasion to make gave me an opportunity of discovering how unlike Homer is Popes version.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Robert Southey      Print: Book


William Cowper : poem [unidentified]

Robert Southey to Charles Watkin Williams Wynn, 12 November 1797: 'You will be surprized perhaps at hearing that Cowpers poem does not at all please me. you must have heard it in some moment when your mind was predisposed to be pleased, & the first impression has remained. indeed I think it — not above mediocrity — I cannot trace the Author of the Task in one line.'

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Robert Southey      Print: Unknown


William Cowper : John Gilpin

From the 1806-1840 Commonplace book of an unknown reader. Transcription of 'The Diverting History of John Gilpin, Shewing how he went farther than he intended and came safe home again', beginning 'John Gilpin was a Citizen /Of credit and renown.'

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group:      


William Cowper : [letters]

'Letters & Letter writing were then proceeded with. Mrs Burrow read three letters of William Cowper characteristically interesting & amusing. Mrs C. Elliott read in French two amusing letters one by Madame de Sevigny & one by Victor Hugo. C. I. Evans read two [?] Ladies Battle & K.S. Evans two by R.L. Stevenson F.E. Pollard read letters by G.B. Shaw & J.M. Barrie to Mrs Patrick Campbell on the death of her son killed in action. Geo Burrow read several characteristic epistles of Charles Lamb & Howard R. Smith part of a letter by Lord Chesterfield to his son. The Club were also much interested by seeing a number of Autograph letters from famous folk shown by various members of the Club.'

Century: 1900-1945     Reader/Listener/Group: Celia Burrow      Print: Unknown


William Cowper : The Task

[Mary Taylor to Elizabeth Gaskell, on the Bronte brother and sisters' religious reading and its relation to their depressive tendencies:] 'Cowper's poem The Castaway was known to them all, and they all at times appreciated, or almost appropriated it. Charlotte told me once that Branwell had done so'.

Century: 1800-1849     Reader/Listener/Group: Bronte children (Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, Anne)     Print: Book


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