Landor, Walter Savage
English poet and essayist. He lived much of his life abroad, dying in Florence, where he had fled to avoid a libel suit in 1858. His works include the epic poem Gebir (1798), the tragedy Count Julian (1812), and Imaginary Conversations of Literary Men and Statesmen (1824-29). Landor has a high place among prose writers for his restrained and finished style; his shorter poems have the same classic simplicity.
A restless life
Landor was born in Warwick, the Midlands, and was educated at Rugby school and Oxford University. His whole life was a series of quarrels, extravagances, and escapades of various kinds. His earliest published work was Poems (1795). Gebir had little success, but won him the friendship of the poet Robert Southey. In 1808 he went to Spain to take part in the war against Napoleon. In 1811 he married and settled in Wales, but, after various quarrels with the local authorities, he left for France. A year later he went to Italy, where he lived in Como until 1818, when, having insulted the authorities in a Latin poem, he had to leave.
In Florence, where he lived for some years, he commenced his Imaginary Conversations, the first two volumes appearing in 1824, the third in 1828, and the fourth and fifth in 1829. He quarrelled finally with his wife in 1835 and returned to Britain, having to leave again in 1858 as a result of a libel action arising from a book called Dry Sticks Fagoted. He remained in Italy until his death.
Other works include the witty Examination of W Shakespeare touching Deer-Stealing (1834), the epistolary Pericles and Aspasia (1836), the imaginary conversations of Pentameron (1837), The Hellenics (1847) (Greek myths in verse), and Poemata et Inscriptiones (1847).
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