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Sir Henry Taylor (18 October 1800 – 27 March 1886) was an English dramatist and poet, Colonial Office official, and man of letters.
Henry Taylor was born on 18 October 1800 in Bishop Middleham. He was the third son of George Taylor Snr and Eleanor Ashworth, who died when he was an infant. His father remarried Jane Mills in 1818, and the family then moved to Witton-le-Wear. George Taylor Snr's friend Charles Arbuthnot found vocational positions in London for Henry Taylor and his elder brother, George Taylor Jnr. In 1817, the pair along with their second brother, William, a medical student, went to London. Soon afterwards, all three siblings contracted typhus fever, and both his brothers died within a fortnight..
Following this tragedy, Henry Taylor then accepted work in the Colonial administration of Barbados. Taylor's place in Barbados was abolished in 1820, subsequent to which he returned to his father's house.
His father George was a friend of William Wordsworth. In 1823, on a visit to the Lake District, Henry Taylor made the acquaintance of Robert Southey, and they became friends. Jane Taylor had a first cousin, Isabella Fenwick (1783-1856), whom he introduced to the Wordsworth family. She became a close friend of Wordsworth in later life, as she had been of Taylor up to the time of his marriage. Though Fenwick was not herself a writer, her friendship left an enduring impression on the writings of Taylor and Wordsworth. In his autobiography, Henry Taylor wrote, "There is a good deal of her mind in my writings. I wish there was more; and I wish that she had left her thoughts behind her in writings of her own."
Henry Taylor, photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron, for whom he was a regular sitter. The beard was grown after illness made him wary of shaving himself. Millais wished (in vain) to have Taylor model for him as Moses.
Taylor aspired to become the official biographer of Southey. The family row over Southey's second marriage, to Caroline Anne Bowles, found him with the Wordsworths and others hostile to Bowles. He did become Southey's literary executor.
In Witton, Taylor wrote The Cave of Ceada which was accepted for the Quarterly Review. Taylor wrote a number of plays, including Isaac Comnenus (1827),and Philip van Artevelde (1834). This latter brought him fame and elicited comparisons with Shakespeare. In 1845 there followed a book of lyrical poems. His essay The Statesman (1836) caused some controversy, as a "supposedly" satirical view of how the civil service worked.
Taylor published his Autobiography in 1885, which contains portraits of Wordsworth, Southey, Tennyson and Walter Scott. In it, on his own account, he gave Richard Whately's opinion of him as a "resuscitated Bacon", who had better things to do than write verse (which could be left to women).
In his own time, Taylor was highly esteemed as a poet and dramatist. For example, J.G. Lockhart claimed that Philip Van Artevelde secured Taylor "a place among the real artists of his time", and, as late as 1868, J.H. Stirling ranked Philip higher than anything produced by Robert Browning.
Modern literary historians, however, tend to overlook Taylor's accomplishments in verse and drama and emphasize his importance as a literary critic, pointing out that he was a strong advocate for stylistic simplicity, subject matter rooted in common life, and intellectual discipline in poetic composition, placing special importance on clear and reasoned structure.
Also available as: Taylor, Henry (1836), "On secrecy", in Taylor, Henry (ed.), The statesman, London: Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, & Longman, pp. 128-131, OCLC4790233.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)Preview.
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Mazzeo, Tilar J. (2007), ""The slip-shod muse": Byron, originality, and aesthetic plagiarism", in Mazzeo, Tilar J. (ed.), Plagiarism and literary property in the Romantic period, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 94-104, ISBN9780812202731, ... Byron's most extended engagement with questions of plagiarism occurs in Child Harold's Pilgrimage, canto 3. The third canto of the poem was published in November of 1816, and by 1817 semi-public allegations of plagiarism were being circulated by Wordsworth. These charges were later made publicly in an 1823 essay, written by Wordsworth's friend Henry Taylor for The London Magazine...CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
Wordsworth's letter to Henry Taylor regarding the essay: Wordsworth, William (1969) , "CCCLXXXIX William Wordsworth to Henry Taylor: Rydal Mount, December 26th, [1823.]", Letters of the Wordsworth family, from 1787 to 1855 Vol. 3 1833-1855, by Wordsworth, William; Wordsworth, Dorothy, Knight, William Angus (ed.), New York, New York: Haskell House Publishing, pp. 211-213, OCLC255149323, ...he [Byron] deserves the severe chastisement which you, or some one else, will undoubtedly one day give him, and may have done already, as I see by advertisement the subject has been treated in the London MagazineCS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
The essay: Taylor, Henry (December 1832). "Recent poetical plagiarisms and imitations". The London Magazine, pp. 569-676. Baldwin, Craddock & Joy. VIII (6): 597-604. Mr. Coleridge has not suffered by this, and the plagiarism has availed nothing to Lord Byron, because it is obvious and unqualified; and therefore, by every reader acquainted with poetry, it is appropriated to its authorCS1 maint: ref=harv (link)