Southey, Robert [key], 1774–1843, English author. Primarily a poet, he was numbered among the so-called Lake poets. While at Oxford he formed (1794) a friendship with Coleridge and joined with him in a plan for an American utopia along the Susquehanna River that was never actualized. Southey married in 1795, made several trips to Portugal, and in 1803 settled with his wife and the Coleridges near Keswick in the Lake District. A prolific writer, he enjoyed great popularity and renown in his day and was made poet laureate in 1813. Today, however, his reputation as a poet rests upon his friendships with Coleridge and Wordsworth and a handful of short poems, notably “The Battle of Blenheim,” “The Holly Tree,” and the epic Vision of Judgment (1821). As a prose writer, however, his reputation has increased. Included among his prose works are biographies of Nelson (1813) and Wesley (1820), several histories, ecclesiastical writings, and translations from the French and Spanish.
See his letters (ed. by J. Simmons, 1951); study by G. Carnall (1960); L. Madden, ed., Robert Southey: The Critical Heritage (1972).
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