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John Donne in the Nineteenth Century$
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Dayton Haskin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212422

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212422.001.0001

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Donne in the Hands of Biographers

Donne in the Hands of Biographers

(p.149) 6 Donne in the Hands of Biographers
John Donne in the Nineteenth Century

Dayton Haskin (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The publication of Rev Alexander B. Grosart's edition of The Complete Poems of John Donne, D.D., Dean of St. Paul's intensified interest in developing an integrated account of Izaak Walton's preacher and Grosart's poetic ‘Imaginator’. Because nearly all the poems added by Grosart had not been accepted as genuine, it is easy underestimate the short-term significance of this expanded canon: late Victorian readers were taken in by Grosart's claims. Some, regarding a historic person's domestic life as too insubstantial to matter in the important work of writing the biography of the nation, dismissed the augmented body of love poetry as irrelevant to understanding Donne's significance. Chief here was Augustus Jessopp, who contributed the entry on Donne to The Dictionary of National Biography. Others felt excitement, however, at the prospect of drawing on long hidden materials, as Edward Dowden sought to do, to develop ‘a true and sufficient idea of John Donne’. Both groups agreed that the popular account by Walton warranted serious revision.

Keywords:   John Donne, poetry, biography, The Dictionary of National Biography, Leslie Stephen, Augustus Jessopp, Edward Dowden, Izaak Walton

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