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Alfred Noyes Biography

(1880–1958), The Loom of Years, The Flower of Japan, Drake: An English Epic

British poet, novelist, and critic, born in Wolverhampton, educated at Exeter College, Oxford, where he was much influenced by Ernest de Selincourt. The Loom of Years (1902), his first collection of poems, established the reputation he consolidated with a succession of volumes, among them The Flower of Japan (1903) and Drake: An English Epic (two volumes, 1906, 1908). The last-named secured him a popular readership whose tastes had been formed by the heartily patriotic verse of Sir Henry Newbolt and others. Other examples of his historical narrative verse include Forty Singing Seamen (1907) and The Golden Hynde (1908). He held a professorship in English at Princeton University until 1923. The increasing preoccupation with religion which led to his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1925 is reflected in The Watchers of the Sky (1922), The Book of Earth (1925), and The Last Voyage (1930); these works, published together as The Torch-Bearers in 1937, form a poetic trilogy attempting to reconcile the claims of science and religious belief. Collected Poems was published in 1950. ‘The Highwayman’, which remains a standard piece for children, is the most enduring of his poems. The Unknown God, his widely read work of Christian apologetics, appeared in 1934. His biography Voltaire (1936) was received with hostility by certain Catholic churchmen for its sympathetic treatment of its subject's theism. Noyes was an outspoken opponent of Modernism, having a particular detestation of Joyce's Ulysses (1922); his poetic practice and his critical writings, which include Some Aspects of Modern Poetry (1924), indicate his firm commitment to Victorian literary conventions. Among his novels, most of which he described as fantasies, are Walking Shadows (1918) and The Last Man (1940). Two Worlds for Memory (1953) is autobiographical.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: New from Tartary to Frank O'connor