Born: 24-12-1822, Laleham (Middlesex, GB)
Died: 15-04-1888, Liverpool (GB)
The sage writer
Matthew Arnold was a sage writer. He wrote about social issues he found important enough to write about. He was more though: a poet and cultural critic and most of all, an inspector of schools.
Born as the son of no other than Thomas Arnold (educator and historian). His father was headmaster of the Rugby School. This school in Warwick is one of the oldest independent schools in England. During the time his father was a headmaster, he acquainted friendship with John Keble. Keble was a churchman and poet. He was also one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement. This movement marked the start of the Anglo-Catholicism.
Because his father was headmaster at Rugby School, his offspring studied at this school. He was also homeschooled and received his education at Winchester College. He even received his education from his father at one point during his sixth form in 1838. During that time, he started writing poetry. He got a lot of help from his brother Tom. He won various prizes for his work.
During the time he studied at Balliol College in Oxford, he became friends with Arthur Hugh Clough. After he finished his studies, he was appointed as a teacher at Rugby. His father died a few years earlier. This was followed by the function of Fellow of Oriel College in Oxford in 1845. From there on, he became the Private Secretary to Lord Lansdowne (1847). Lansdowne was the Lord President of the Council. The Council was the Privy Council, those who advised the monarch.
Arnold published his first book in 1849, entitled The Strayed Reveller. One year later, he wrote about the death of his employer, Lord Lansdowne, in Fraser’s Magazine (title: Memorial Verses).
In 1851, he was able to marry Frances Lucy. He had to obtain a new function, since he wasn’t able to marry before. The same year as he got married, he became Her Majesty Inspector of Schools. His wife was the daughter of Sir William Wightman, the Justice to the Queen’s Bench. The marriage brought six children forward.
The job he held did not give him much satisfaction. One of the benefits was that he could travel. He spent many hours inside a passenger wagon He probably travelled more than any of his fellow writers. It was at one of the trips he made in Liverpool, that he died. He didn’t travel on a professional basis, because he retired in 1886.
His literary legacy
As said, his first collection of poetry dates back to 1849. Three years later he published Empedocles on Etna, and other poems. This was followed by Poems: a new edition in 1853. He combined the books he published before – at least the poems he found to be most important – and added several poems. In 1854, he published Poems: second series, this included more of her previously released work and the famous poem Balder Dead.
Because of his contributions to English literature, he was elected as Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford in 1857. Arnold was the first professor to be elected.
Arnold broke with the traditions. He decided to teach in English instead of Latin. People liked this idea, and he was re-elected in 1862.
To break with traditions wasn’t a one time occurrence, as he started writing critical essays as of 1865. The first of these essays were published during his life. The second series was published in 1888, after he died.