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Wilfred Scawen Blunt Biography

(1840–1922), demimondaine, Sonnets and Songs, Esther, Griselda, Love Poems, The Poetical Works of Wilfred Scawen Blunt

including published volumes appeared

British poet and campaigner against imperialism; born into a family of wealthy Sussex landowners, he entered the diplomatic service at the age of 18. He was posted to various European capitals, including Paris, where he sustained an affair with ‘Skittles’, a well-known demimondaine, from which much of his subsequent love poetry derived. In 1869 he married Annabella King-Noel, the granddaughter of Byron, and resigned from his career as a diplomat. His first collection of verse was Sonnets and Songs, published under the pseudonym ‘Proteus’ in 1875, which later appeared in several revised editions. Numerous volumes followed, including Esther (1892) and Griselda, his verse-novel of 1893. Love lyrics, often of a candour unusual in the late Victorian era, remained a dominant aspect of his poetry, which also dwelt on the Sussex countryside and incorporated translations from the work of Arabian poets. His collected Love Poems appeared in 1902; two volumes of The Poetical Works of Wilfred Scawen Blunt were published in 1914. In 1875 he began his extensive travels in the Middle East, conceiving the strong antipathy to British imperialism which led him to work for political independence for Egypt, Arabia, India, and Ireland. His political publications include In Vinculis (1889), a poem written after he was imprisoned for a speech espousing Irish nationalism, and the prose treatises Secret History of the English Occupation of Egypt (1907) and The Land War in Ireland (1912). He numbered many leading figures in literature and politics among his admirers in his later years, including George Bernard Shaw, who expressed his approval of Blunt's opinions in the preface to John Bull's Other Island (1904). His Diaries were published in two volumes in 1919 and 1920. Elizabeth Longford's biography A Pilgrimage of Passion appeared in 1979.

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