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W. P. Ker (William Paton Ker) Biography

(1855–1923), (William Paton Ker), The Art of Poetry, Froissart's Chronicles, The Dark Ages

english university college poetry

British scholar, born in Glasgow, educated at Glasgow University and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1879 he was elected a fellow of All Souls College. Among other academic posts Ker was Chair of English at the newly formed University College of Wales in Cardiff, and Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at University College, London (UCL); between 1920 and 1922 he was Oxford Professor of Poetry, publishing his lectures as The Art of Poetry (1923). His early publications include his edition of Froissart's Chronicles (6 volumes, 19013; translated by Lord G. H. Berners); The Dark Ages (1904), his first work of historical criticism; Essays on Mediaeval Literature (1905); English Literature: Mediaeval (1912); and his best-known work, Epic and Romance (1897). From 1917 onward he was active in establishing the Department of Scandinavian Studies at UCL. He was the leading authority of his day on the history and development of poetic forms, a specialization he applied across a remarkable range of English, Scottish, and Scandinavian literatures; the posthumous Form and Style in Poetry (1928) was edited by R. W. Chambers, who succeeded Ker to the Quain Chair. His work was of seminal importance in the formation of English studies as a university discipline. Ker's Collected Essays, edited by C. Whibley, were published in 1925.

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