Henley, William Ernest

Henley, William Ernest, 1849–1903, English poet, critic, and editor. Although crippled by tuberculosis of the bone, he led an active, vigorous life. As editor of several reviews successively, he introduced to the public a galaxy of young writers, including Kipling, Wells, and Yeats. Although his verse is noted for its bravado and spirit of defiance, his poetry could be equally delicate and lyrical. His best-known poems include “England, My England,” and “Invictus,” which concludes with the famous lines “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” Henley's volumes of verse include A Book of Verses (1888), The Song of the Sword (1892), and For England's Sake (1900). He collaborated on four plays with Robert Louis Stevenson, with whom he enjoyed a long friendship.

See biography by J. Connell (1949, repr. 1971); study by J. H. Buckley (1945, repr. 1971).

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