1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/White, Henry Kirke

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16239071911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 28 — White, Henry Kirke

WHITE, HENRY KIRKE (1785-1806), English poet, was born at Nottingham, the son of a butcher, on the 21st of March 1785. He was destined at first for his father's trade, but after a short apprenticeship to a stocking-weaver, was eventually articled to a lawyer. Meanwhile he studied hard, and his master offered to release him from his contract if he had sufficient means to go to college. He received encouragement from Capel Lofft, the friend of Robert Bloomfield, and published in 1803 Clifton Grove, a Sketch in Verse, with other Poems, dedicated to Georgiana, duchess of Devonshire. The book was violently attacked in the Monthly Review (February 1804), but White was in some degree compensated by a kind letter from Robert Southey. Through the efforts of his friends, he was entered as a sizar at St John's College, Cambridge, spending a year beforehand with a private tutor. Close application to study induced a serious illness, and fears were entertained for his sanity, but he went into residence at Cambridge, with a view to taking holy orders, in the autumn of 1805. The strain of continuous study proved fatal, and he died on the 19th of October 1806. He was buried in the church of All Saints, Cambridge. The genuine piety of his religious verses secured a place in popular hymnology for some of his hymns. Much of his fame was due to sympathy inspired by his early death, but it is noteworthy that Byron agreed with Southey in forming a high estimate of the young man's promise.

His Remains, with his letters and an account of his life, were edited (3 vols., 1807-1822) by Robert Southey. See prefatory notices by Sir Harris Nicolas to his Poetical Works (new ed., 1866) in the "Aldine Edition" of the British poets; by H. K. Swann in the volume of selections (1897) in the Canterbury Poets; and by John Drinkwater to the edition in the "Muses' Library." See also J. T. Godfrey and J. Ward, The Homes and Haunts of Henry Kirke White (1908).