William Whitehead


William Whitehead

__FORCETOC__William Whitehead, (baptized February 12, 1715April 14 1785), was an English poet and playwright. He became Poet Laureate in 1757 after Thomas Gray declined the position.

Life

The son of a baker, Whitehead was born in Cambridge and through the patronage of Henry Bromley, afterwards Lord Montfort, was admitted to Winchester College He entered Clare College, Cambridge on a scholarship, and became a fellow in 1742. At Cambridge, Whitehead published an epistle "On the Danger of writing Verse" and some other poems, notably an heroic epistle, "Ann Boleyn to Henry the Eighth" (1743), and a didactic "Essay on Ridicule", also (1743). [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/W/WH/WHITEHEAD_WILLIAM.htm William Whitehead - LoveToKnow 1911 ] ]

William Whitehead was a great, almost famous writer and his works are still stoked in many libraries today. He won many awards for his work.

In 1745 Whitehead became the tutor of Viscount Villiers, son of the earl of Jersey, and took up his residence in London. There he produced two tragedies: "The Roman Father" and "Creusa, Queen of Athens". The plots of these tragedies are based the "Horace" of Corneille, and the "Ion" of Euripides.

After Thomas Gray refused the laureateship, it was passed to Whitehead, who was more acceptable at court as he was the travelling tutor of Viscount Nuneham, son of the Earl of Harcourt, who was Governor to the Prince of Wales (later George III). http://www.library.otago.ac.nz/Exhibitions/poet_laureate/pl_whitehead.html]

Poetry and Plays

Much of Whitehead's work was well received: his tragedy "The Roman Father" was successfully produced by David Garrick in 1750, "Creusa, Queen of Athens" (1754) was also praised and his comedies "The School for Lovers" (1762) and "The Trip to Scotland" (1770) were successful.Fact|date=September 2008

After being appointed Poet Laureate, Whitehead defended the poetry of Laureates in a comic poem "A Pathetic Apology for All Laureates, Past, Present, And To Come". He was conscientious, and saw himself as a non-partisan representative for the whole country. Astonishingly for a political appointee, he appeared to see no requirement "to defend the King or support the government". Sadly, this reflects the idea that the Laureate's influence had weakened so much that the official poems were unlikely to influence opinions, even though the times were important politically, with rebellion in the American colonies and war in Europe. [ [http://www.baymoon.com/~ariadne/poets/poets.laureate.britain.htm#WilliamWhitehead Poets Laureate of Great Britain ] ]

For some 28 years in this post, he contented himself in writing the obligatory verse, avoiding flattery and domestic politics, and bolstering Britain’s place in world affairs. Indeed, he was the first laureate to see past court and party divisions and speak of the ‘spirit of England’. The odes Whitehead wrote in his capacity as Poet Laureate, however, were ridiculed. Charles Churchill attacked him in 1762, in the third book of "The Ghost", as "the heir of Dullness and Method".

Whitehead's works were collected in two volumes in 1774. A third, including a memoir by William Mason, appeared posthumously in 1788. His plays are printed in Bells British Theatre (vols. 3, 7, 20) and other collections, and his poems appear in Chalmers' Works of the English Poets (vol. 17) and similar compilations.

Poem - "The Je Ne Sais Quoi"

References

# [http://www.1911encyclopedia.org/W/WH/WHITEHEAD_WILLIAM.htm 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica]
#"Chalmers' Works of the English Poets" (vol. 17)
#"Bell's British Theatre" (vols. 3, 7, 20)

Notes


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