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JEAN INGELOW (1820—1897)

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Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 563 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JEAN INGELOW (1820—1897), English poet and novelist, was born at Boston, in Lincolnshire, on the 17th of March 182o. She was the daughter of William Ingelow, a banker of that town. As a girl she contributed verses and tales to the magazines under the pseudonym of " Orris," but her first (anonymous) volume, A Rhyming Chronicle of Incidents and Feelings, did not appear until her thirtieth year. This Tennyson said had " very charming things " in it, and he declared he should " like to know " the author, who was later admitted to his friendship. Miss Ingelow followed this book of verse in 1851 with a story, Allerton and Dreux, but it was the publication of her Poems in 1863 which suddenly raised her to the rank of a popular writer. They ran rapidly through numerous editions, were set to music, and sung in every drawing-room, and in America obtained an even greater hold upon public estimation. In 1867 she published The Story of Doom and other Poems, and then gave up verse for a while and became industrious as a novelist. Off the Skelligs appeared in 1872, Fated to be Free in 1873, Sarah de Berenger in 188o, and John Jerome in 1886. She also wrote Studies for Stories (1864), Stories told to a Child (1865), Mopsa the Fairy (1869), and other excellent stories for children. Her third series of Poems was published in 1885. She resided for the last years of her life in Kensington, and somewhat outlived her popularity as a poet. She died on the 20th of July 1897. Her poems, which were collected in one volume in 1898, have often the genuine ballad note, and as a writer of songs she was exceedingly successful. " Sailing beyond Seas " and " When Sparrows build " in Supper at the Mill were deservedly among the most popular songs of the day; but they share, with the rest of her work, the faults of affectation and stilted phraseology. Her best-known poem was the " High Tide on the Coast of Lincoln-shire," which reached the highest level of excellence. The blemishes of her style were cleverly indicated in a well-known parody of Calverley's; a false archaism and a deliberate assumption of unfamiliar and unnecessary synonyms for simple objects were among the most vicious of her mannerisms. She wrote, however, in verse with a sweetness which her sentiment and her heat inspired, and in prose she displayed feeling for character and the gift of narrative; while a delicate underlying tenderness is never wanting in either medium to her sometimes tortured expression. Miss Ingelow was a woman of frank and hospitable manners, with a look of the Lady Bountiful of a country parish. She had nothing of the professional authoress or the " literary lady" about her, and, as with characteristic simplicity she was accustomed to say, was no great reader. Her temperament was rather that of the improvisatore than of the professional author or artist.
End of Article: JEAN INGELOW (1820—1897)
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