Noel, Roden Berkeley Wriothesley (DNB00)

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NOEL, RODEN BERKELEY WRIOTHESLEY (1834–1894), poet, born on 27 Aug. 1834, was the fourth son of Charles Noel, lord Barham, who was created in 1841 first Earl of Gainsborough. His mother Frances, second daughter of Robert Jocelyn, third earl of Roden, was his father's fourth wife. Noel graduated M.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1858. In 1863 he married, and in the same year issued his first volume of verse, ' Behind the Veil, and other Poems,' London, 8vo. His next book, ' Beatrice, and other Poems,' 1868, 8vo, in which the influence of Shelley was strongly marked, raised higher expectations. Like its successors, it was distinguished by high purpose and refined feeling; like them also, it lacked self-restraint, compression, form. Among his later volumes the want of inspiration and of melody is least felt in his pathetic 'Little Child's Monument,' 1881. The ablest of his critical writings was his sympathetic, if somewhat capricious, 'Essays upon Poetry and Poets,' London, 1886, 8vo, including papers on Chatterton, Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, Hugo, Tennyson, and Walt Whitman. A selection from his poems, with a prefatory notice by his friend, Mr. Robert Buchanan, was issued in the series known as the 'Canterbury Poets' in 1892. From 1867 to 1871 Noel performed the duties of a groom of the privy chamber to Queen Victoria. He died very suddenly at Mainz on 26 May 1894. By his wife Alice, daughter of Paul de Broe, he left a son, Conrad Le Despencer Roden, and a daughter, Frances.

His writings, besides those mentioned, include:

  1. 'The Red Flag and other Poems,' 1872, 8vo.
  2. 'Livingstone in Africa: a Poem,' 1874, 16mo.
  3. 'The House of Ravensburg: a Drama,' in five acts and in verse, 1877.
  4. 'A Philosophy of Immortality,' 1882.
  5. 'Songs of the Heights and Deeps,' 1885, 8vo.
  6. 'A Modern Faust and other Poems,' 1888, 8vo.
  7. 'Life of Lord Byron' (Great Writers' Series), 1890, 8vo.
  8. 'Poor People's Christmas: a Poem,' 1890.

He also edited a 'Selection from the Poems of Edmund Spenser,' 1887, 8vo, and the 'Plays of Thomas Otway' for the Mermaid Series, 1888, 8vo.

[Art. by J. A. Symonds in Miles's Poets of the Nineteenth Century; Times, 28 May 1894; Athenaeum, Academy, and Saturday Review, 2 June 1894; Spectator, lix. 755; Noel's works in the Brit. Mus. Library.]

T. S.