Joseph Crabtree (polymath)

Joseph Crabtree (polymath)

Joseph Crabtree is a fictional character created in 1954 by James Sutherland at University College, London as an academic satire. Sutherland's lectures, and the proceedings of the "Crabtree Foundation" that he founded, were collected and published as the "Crabtree Orations" in 1997. Aside from its home at University College, the Crabtree Foundation has also opened chapters at Monash University in Victoria, Australia and in Florence, Italy. Crabtree's name is associated with "Crabtree's Bludgeon".

Fictional biography

Infobox Writer
name = Joseph Crabtree

caption = A pencil drawing of Joseph Crabtree, dated 1854
birthdate = 1754
birthplace = Chipping Sodbury, England
deathdate = 1854 (aged 100)
deathplace = Haworth, England
occupation = Polymath

Joseph Crabtree (stated by his creator to have been born in 1754, at Chipping Sodbury, South Gloucestershire, and to have died in 1854, at Haworth, Yorkshire) was a British poet, polymath and sometime banker and brewer whose life and career have been developed through the research of the scholars and orators of the Crabtree Foundation at University College London from 1954 to the present day. The fictional Crabtree met and influenced William Wordsworth, Samuel Johnson, William Blake, and Alfred Lord Tennyson, among others. Notionally well-known before the twentieth century, his reputation was eclipsed until Sir James Sutherland brought him to the attention of University College London during the centenary of his death. Crabtree's contributions to philosophy, science, art, mathematics, literature, publishing, criminology and brewing, among many others, would have placed him at a pivotal position in the history of the Age of Enlightenment.

Early life

Joseph Crabtree's story begins with his birth into a Methodist family by breech birth in 1754. His early life is marked by a number of interactions with key philosophical and luminary figures of the age, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who sent the eight-year-old Crabtree's mother a copy of his work on education, "Emile". Aged 14, in 1768, Crabtree accompanied Captain James Cook on his first voyage in the "Endeavour" as a "flute boy".See THE CRABTREE ORATIONS, 1954-1994, edited by Bryan Bennett & Negley Harte (1997).] In 1770, he attended Eton College under the pseudonym of Burke, only to be expelled the following year for lampooning the headmaster. At the age of nineteen, he was sent down from Oxford University, after writing satirical verses aimed at his tutor, Jacob Jefferson, who subsequently expunged young Crabtree's name from the matriculation list.

Literary Influences

Crabtree purportedly influenced a number of literary luminaries, including Goethe, whom he met in Rome in 1785 while travelling under the name of "Tischbein". This meeting led Crabtree into an affair with Emma Harte, about whom he wrote love poems which Goethe published in German in 1795 under the title of "Erotica Romana". With William Wordsworth, he appears to have had a rapport which saw him invited to stay at Porlock in 1798, where he also met Samuel Taylor Coleridge at the time of the latter's supposed composition of "Kubla Khan", a stay which ultimately led to his persuading Wordsworth to quantify certain lines in "Tintern Abbey" and "The Thorn".


* cite book
last = Bennett
first = Bryan
coauthors = Negley Harte
title = The Crabtree Orations 1954-1994
publisher = Crabtree Foundation
date = 1997
location = London
isbn = 095299870X


External links

* [ Crabtree Foundation (Italian chapter)]

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