James Thomson - Life Stories, Books, and Links
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Picture of James Thomson, author of Alfred the Great; poet and playwright / dramatist; eighteenth century British Literature / English Literature, drama, and poetry
Illustration: James Thomson, from Works of the English Poets with prefaces, Biographical and Critical, by Samuel Johnson, Vol. 48, London: J. Nichols, 1779.
James Thomson   (1700 - 1748)
Category:  English Literature
Born: 1700Died: 1748
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James Thomson - LIFE STORIES
8/2/1740     "Rule, Britannia!"
On this day in 1740 James Thomson's masque, Alfred the Great was first produced, in an open-air performance before the Prince and Princess of Wales. Amid the lessons on Alfred's greatness and the prophetic visions of future glory were seven songs; one of them, "Rule, Britannia!," was immediately popular, and is still the unofficial national anthem.
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Electric Scotland
Find a lengthy biography and information about Scottish and Scots Irish Clans (families, Septs, names, tartans, mini bios, history of the Gael), Scottish history and Gaelic arts, and a selection of resources on travel and lifestyle.

"It is as a descriptive poet that Thomson has gained a permanent fame; for all his compositions, except of that kind, have sunk into comparative neglect. His 'Seasons' has now kept its place amongst the poetical classics of England, for upwards of a century; and still there is no perceptible tendency to decline in its popularity. In reference to this poem, Dr Johnson has written as follows; and no further criticism seems to be necessary:-'As a writer, Thomson is entitled to one praise of the highest kind,-his mode of thinking, and of expressing his thoughts, is original. His blank verse is no more the blank verse of Milton, or of any other poet, than the rhymes of Prior are the rhymes of Cowley. His numbers, his pauses, his diction, are of his own growth, without transcription, without imitation. He thinks in a peculiar train, and he always thinks as a man of genius: he looks round on nature, and on life, with the eye which nature only bestows on a poet, the eye that distinguishes, in every thing presented to its view, whatever there is on which imagination can delight to be detained, and with a mind that at once comprehends the vast, and attends to the minute....'"
Samuel Johnson's Preface to Thomson
Read excerpts from Dr. Johnson's Lives of the English Poets.

"The biographer of Thomson has remarked that an author's life is best read in his works: his observation was not welltimed. Savage, who lived much with Thomson, once told me how he heard a lady remarking that she could gather from his works three parts of his character, that he was 'a great lover, a great swimmer, and rigorously abstinent'; but, said Savage, he knows not any love but that of the sex; he was perhaps never in cold water in his life; and he indulges himself in all the luxury that comes within his reach. Yet Savage always spoke with the most eager praise of his social qualities, his warmth and constancy of friendship, and his adherence to his first acquaintance when the advancement of his reputation had left them behind him."
Slainte: Information and Libraries Scotland
A short biography briefly examines the poet's life and literary accomplishments.

"James Thomson was one of the most influential British poets, yet there is no significant writer, before or since, more disparaged. John Veitch in The Feeling for nature in Scottish poetry offered an explanation for this paradox by pointing out that English was not his native language, but a foreign language which he had to acquire. Thomson's seminal work, The Seasons (1726-30, revised 1744), is a laboured and uneasy epic poem, yet it is considered to be the first substantial poem in English to have Nature, or, perhaps, the landscape, as its main subject. Thomson is, properly, credited by historians of the Picturesque, with occupying a position analogous to that of Claude or Poussin in painting. The Seasons is said to have inspired Turner, and Wordsworth and Coleridge. Haydn used a translation of The Seasons as text for his oratorio Die Jahreszeiten."
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February 24, 2018
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