From Alfred Lord Tennyson to Cecil Day Lewis: a plethora of poets laureate

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Archive Advent calendar: 19 December

Today we open another window on the Library’s archival advent calendar to find four poets laureate closely clustered in the membership records.

Alfred Lord Tennyson was the Library’s President between 1885 and 1892 and was poet laureate from 1850 until his death.  He became laureate in the year In Memoriam was published anonymously: it rapidly became one of the most spectacular publishing successes of the Victorian era.

The poet Alfred Austin joined the Library in 1866 and became poet laureate after Tennyson holding the position from 1896 to 1913.

The poet and novelist John Masefield joined the Library in 1909 and became poet laureate in 1930 holding the position until 1967 when he was succeeded by Cecil Day Lewis who held the position until 1972.

© Helen O’Neill        Archive, Heritage and Development Librarian

Cecil Day Lewis

The poet and novelist Cecil Day Lewis joined the Library in 1945. He was nominated by the art critic and reviewer Raymond Mortimer and became poet laureate in 1968

Christmas Eve

Something festive from the Library’s Special Collections: Christmas Eve by Cecil Day Lewis was published in London by Faber in 1954. It is inscribed in ink on the second flyleaf “Betsy and Keith with love from Cecil Christmas /54”.