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Warton, Thomas (1728–90, English poet and literary historian)

Thomas Warton, 1728–90, English poet and literary historian, grad. Trinity College, Oxford (1747), brother of Joseph Warton. He was ordained and eventually served as professor of poetry at Oxford from 1757 to 1767. In 1785, the year he was named poet laureate, he became Camden professor of history. More important as a literary scholar than as a poet, he did much to awaken the public interest in medieval and Elizabethan literature. Although his first important scholarly work was his Observations on the Faerie Queene of Spenser (1754), his major work was the History of English Poetry (1774–81), which covered the 11th through the 16th cent. Though it was condemned for its inaccuracies, it is still regarded as an extremely valuable scholarly work. As a poet, Warton was more inclined toward light and humorous verse. He also edited The Oxford Sausage (1764), an anthology of Oxford wit.

See biographies by W. P. Ker (1911) and C. Rinaker (1916); study by E. Gosse (1915); J. Pittock, The Ascendancy of Taste: The Achievement of Joseph and Thomas Warton (1973).

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poets laureate

poets laureate

1 post not officially established until 1668; the previous laureates had included Ben Jonson

2 Appointed after Thomas Gray declined

3 Appointed after Samuel

1668

John Dryden1

1689

Thomas Shadwell

1692

Nathum Tate

1715

Nicholas Rowe

1718

Laurence Eusden

1730

Colley Cibber

1757

William Whitehead2

1785

Thomas Warton

1790

Henry Pye

1813

Robert Southey

1843

William Wordsworth

1850

Alfred, Lord Tennyson3

1896

Alfred Austin

1913

Robert Bridges

1930

John Masefield

1968

Cecil Day Lewis

1972

Sir John Betjeman

1984

Ted Hughes

1999

Andrew Motion


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Warton, Thomas (the elder, c.1688–1745, English poet)

Thomas Warton, the elder, c.1688–1745, English poet, father of Joseph and Thomas Warton. He was professor of poetry at Oxford from 1718 to 1728. His collected poems, edited by Joseph Warton, and published posthumously in 1748, are primitive and biblical in tone; some are runic odes and may have influenced Thomas Gray.

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