John Masefield (John Edward Masefield) Biography
(1878–1967), (John Edward Masefield), Some Memories of W. B. Yeats, Salt-Water Ballads
Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Harriet Martineau Biography to John McTaggart (John McTaggart Ellis McTaggart) Biography
British poet, born in Ledbury, Herefordshire; from the age of 13 he trained for a career in the merchant navy. After a crossing to New York in 1895, he deserted ship and remained in America for two years, where he began writing poetry. Shortly after returning to Britain in 1897 he formed a friendship with W. B. Yeats, to whom he paid tribute in Some Memories of W. B. Yeats (1940). His reputation as a poet was established with the appearance of Salt-Water Ballads (1902); the collection's maritime lyricism was sustained in Ballads and Poems (1910), which demonstrated his growing virtuosity and imaginative reach. The first of his long narrative poems was The Everlasting Mercy (1911), which was controversial for the dramatic use of profanely colloquial language in its account of the spiritual regeneration of the labourer Saul Kane. The realism of setting and characterization he aspired to are further developed in numerous subsequent verse narratives, which include The Widow in the Bye Street (1912) and Dauber (1913), a psychologically compelling treatment of a sailor with artistic instincts. Collected Poems of 1923 sold over 200,000 copies. In 1930 he succeeded Robert Bridges as Poet Laureate and received the Order of Merit in 1935. He was also highly regarded as a playwright and published Prose Plays and Verse Plays in 1925. Shorter narratives of country life and lyrical evocations of the natural world predominate in his later collections of poetry, which include The Country Scene in Poems (1937), On the Hill (1949), and The Bluebells (1961). His many other publications include The Midnight Folk (1927), his celebrated story for children, and the popular adventure novels Sard Harker (1924) and Live and Kicking Ned (1939). So Long To Learn (1952) and Grace before Ploughing (1966) are autobiographical.