Contents Index

Robert Southey

Robert Southey, 1774-1843, English poet and essayist; poet laureate, 1813-1843.

A major force on the direction of early British Romanticism, Southey was a friend of Coleridge and Wordsworth. These three constituted the group known in their day as the Lake poets (from their residence in the region of the "Lakes" in the northwest of England).

In spite of radical Jacobin principles in his youth, Southey later became a political conservative and a major spokesperson on cultural matters for the reactionary Tory regime in the late years of the Napoleonic Wars and the postwar settlement.

His early work is the most highly regarded today and ranges from clever, atmospheric ballads to verse romances set in exotic locations into which magic continually erupts. The first of these, Thalaba the Destroyer, in its late books recounts a long chase through a northern wilderness that is likely to have had an impact on the closing chapters of Frankenstein.