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Passions in PoetryWalter Savage Landor
1775 - 1864

Poet and prose writer, Walter Savage Landor was born at Ipsley Court, Warwick. The son of a doctor and a wealthy mother, he was educated at Rugby from which he was removed for insolence. He was also suspended from Trinity College, Oxford for firing off a shotgun in his rooms. In 1808 he fought as a volunteer for the Spanish War of Liberation against the French, subsidising it personally. He inherited the family property in Staffordshire in 1805 and sold it to buy Llanthony Abbey in Wales it shortly before marrying a seventeen year old, Julia Thuiller in 1811. Having been sued for libel, he and his wife went into exile in Italy. He was also threatened with expulsion from Florence for being insulting to the local police and for writing condemnatory material about Italy in Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen (1824-29).

In 1835 he parted from his wife and four children and returned to England with Pericles and Aspasia (1836), a rendering of classical Athens through a series of imaginary letters. He was also a friend of Charles Dickens who represented him as Boythorn in Bleak House and of John Forester who was to write his biography. His most notable prose works of this period are The Pentameron and Pentalogia (1837), which is a dialogue between Petrarch and Boccaccio, and Imaginary Conversations of Greeks and Romans (1853). In 1858, under the cloud of a pending libel case due to some satirical verses he had written on a local woman - Dry Sticks, Fagoted by Walter Savage Landor - he once again left for Italy. Eventually he fled to Florence to live with Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, where he died in 1864 having written poems to Elizabeth which were printed in 1917.

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Walter Savage Landor
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