A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Keble, John

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Keble, John (1792-1866). -- Poet and divine, s. of the Rev. John K., Vicar of Coln St. Aldwyn's, Gloucestershire, b. at Fairford in the same county, ed. by his f. and at Oxf., where he page 220was elected a Fellow of Oriel Coll., and was for some years tutor and examiner in the Univ. His ideal life, however, was that of a country clergyman, and having taken orders in 1815, he became curate to his f. Meantime he had been writing The Christian Year, which appeared in 1827, and met with an almost unparalleled acceptance. Though at first anonymous, its authorship soon became known, with the result that K. was in 1831 appointed to the Chair of Poetry at Oxf., which he held until 1841. In 1833 his famous sermon on "national apostasy" gave the first impulse to the Oxf. movement, of which, after the secession of Newman to the Church of Rome, he, along with Pusey, was regarded as the leader, and in connection with which he contributed several of the more important "tracts" in which were enforced "deep submission to authority, implicit reverence for Catholic tradition, firm belief in the divine prerogatives of the priesthood, the real nature of the sacraments, and the danger of independent speculation." His f. having d., K. became in 1836 Vicar of Hursley, near Winchester, where he remained until his death. In 1846 he pub. another book of poems, Lyra Innocentium. Other works were a Life of Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, and an ed. of the Works of Hooker. After his death appeared Letters of Spiritual Counsel, and 12 vols. of Parish Sermons. The literary position of K. must mainly rest upon The Christian Year, Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays, and Holidays throughout the Year, the object of which was, as described by the author, to bring the thoughts and feelings of the reader into unison with those exemplified in the Prayer Book. The poems, while by no means of equal literary merit, are generally characterised by delicate and true poetic feeling, and refined and often extremely felicitous language; and it is a proof of the fidelity to nature with which its themes are treated that the book has become a religious classic with readers far removed from the author's ecclesiastical standpoint and general school of thought. K. was one of the most saintly and unselfish men who ever adorned the Church of England, and, though personally shy and retiring, exercised a vast spiritual influence upon his generation.

Life by J.D. Coleridge (1869), another by Rev. W. Lock (1895).