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Selected Poetry of John Frederick William Herschel (1792-1871)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

  1. The Child to his Mother, Absent
  2. On Burning a Parcel of Old MSS.
  3. Tick! Tick! Tick!


Notes on Life and Works

The astronomer John Frederick William Herschel was born on March 7, 1792, in Slough, Buckinghamshire. He attended Dr. Gretton's School in Hitcham, Eton College (briefly), and St. John's College Cambridge first as a student (1809-13), and then as elected fellow, graduating with M.A. in 1816. Many honours came to him quickly. The Royal Society elected him a fellow in 1813, he received the Copley Medal in 1821, he became President of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1827, and he was knighted in 1831. Herschel's research discoveries crisscrossed several fields, mathematics (differential calculus), chemistry, and astronomy, particularly in the last through his catalogues of double stars and nebulae, and his studies of Halley's comet in 1835-36 at the Cape of Good Hope. His major works were Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy (1830) and A Treatise on Astronomy (1833), later revised into one of the most celebrated scientific treatises ever published, Outlines of Astronomy (1849). Herschel's love of poetry emerged in his translation of works by Schiller, Bürger, Homer (the entire Iliad), and Dante. Certain of his poems came out in Essays (1857). Shortly after Herschel became Master of the Mint in 1850, he retired to Collingwood, at Hawkwood in Kent, with his wife, Margaret Brodie, whom he had married on March 3, 1829. He died there on May 11, 1871, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Biographical information

Given name: John Frederick William
Family name: Herschel
Honorific: Dr.
Title: Sir
Birth date: 7 March 1792
Death date: 3 March 1871
Nationality: English
Family relations
          wife: Margaret Brodie Herschel
Education
          Dr. Gretton's School, Hitcham
          Eton College
          St. John's College Cambridge (M.A.) to 1816
Honours
          Fellow of the Royal Society: 1813
          Copley Medal: 1821
          President, Royal Astronomical Society: 1827
Literary period: Victorian
Occupation: astronomer
Residence: Collingwood, Hawkwood, Kent
Buried at: Westminster Abbey
First RPO edition: 2002