Clare, John, 1793-1864 (poet, farm labourer and naturalist)
- Existence: 1793 - 1864
John Clare (1793-1864), poet, farm labourer, and naturalist was born in Northamptonshire, the son of a thresher and local wrestler. He had a very poor rural upbringing, but his parents were able to provide him with some elementary schooling. From the age of 14 Clare worked variously as a ploughboy, gardener and labourer whilst he also had a short stint in the Northamptonshire militia. His time working in the countryside led to an interest in the world around him and he became a naturalist, studying flora and fauna and also local archaeology that he unearthed whilst ploughing. Clare also played fiddle and learned hundreds of folk songs. Around 1814 he started writing poetry and his work came to the notice of a Stamford bookseller. Clare's first book of poems was published in 1820 and he soon became feted, visiting London to great acclaim and becoming friends with many poets, authors and members of society. His poetry was imbued with the local landscape and rural traditions which he had grown up with and became known for its celebratory representations of the English countryside and his lamentation of its disruption. However, by the early 1830s Clare's life was in decline. He was unable to raise his growing family (he had nine children) out of poverty as his publications made little money. Clare also suffered from ill health, being prone to epilepsy and mental health problems. In 1837 he became a voluntary patient at an asylum before being committed to Northampton General Lunatic Asylum in 1841 where he lived until his death in 1864.
Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:
Includes offprints of articles on John Clare by Mark Stoney.
Papers accumulated by John Goodridge relating to Robert Bloomfield and John Clare, including correspondence and writings of Ronald Blythe
A collection of original documents relating to Robert Bloomfield and members of his family, together with correspondence and papers of Ronald Blythe, principally relating to John Clare and the John Clare Society.