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47 Thomas Chatterton 1752-1770
Notebook
Manuscript, 34 p., October 27-29, 1769
A precocious English poet who committed suicide in London at the age of seventeen, Chatterton, whose lyric poetry was much admired by the Romantics, is perhaps remembered most for his poems which he pretended were the work of one Thomas Rowley, an imaginary Bristol poet of the fifteenth century. He obtained his scanty education at Colston's Hospital, Bristol, where he showed some of his poems to the usher Thomas Phillips, the subject of an "Elegy" in the notebook. Most of Chatterton's surviving manuscripts are at the British Library and the Bristol Library. Robert Southey received from the collector, Thomas Hill, this manuscript notebook, bound in a parchment cover on which the poet has sketched in ink several medieval swords and seals; Southey edited and included in the 1803 Works five of the six poems in the notebook. The sixth poem, "Elegy" ("Muse ascend on Sorrows sable Plume"), scored through by Chatterton in the manuscript, was not published until April 1924 when it appeared in Modern Language Notes.
Bequest of Stephen Whitney Phoenix

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