Robert Southey

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Robert Southey

Robert Southey (born August 12, 1774 in Bristol , England , † March 21, 1843 in Keswick , England) was an English poet, historian and critic. He belongs to the " Sea School " (named after the Lake District in Cumberland) around William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge .


Southey, the son of a burlap merchant, attended Westminster School , but was expelled from it after four years because he published an article against the corporal punishment of students in the magazine he founded, The Flagellant . He studied theology at Balliol College at the University of Oxford without having the prospect of a Church office as a Unitarian . At a young age, Southey was downright rebellious and an avid supporter of the French Revolution , as evidenced by his poem Joan of Arc, written in 1792 . His radical views brought him together with Coleridge, and together they devised the plan to establish a commune in Pennsylvania . However, nothing came of this idea. Together with Coleridge, he wrote the drama The Fall of Robespierre in 1794 . At the end of 1795, Southey traveled to Portugal. The experiences of this trip seem to have dissuaded him from his radical political ideas. It was during this time that most of his poems that are still known today were written, for example the anti-war poem The Battle of Blenheim .

From 1800 to 1801 Southey was back in Portugal . During this time he finally changed to the conservative Tory , which should make him an enemy for the generation of younger romantics like Percy Bysshe Shelley and George Gordon Byron . Back in England, Southey lived at Greta Hall near Keswick in Cumberland. In the next few years he mainly wrote historical verses. In addition, he translated numerous works, including from French and Spanish. In 1807 Southey received a state pension, and in 1813 he became a "poet laureate", d. H. appointed official court poet of the royal family. Since 1839, unconscious as a result of paralysis, he died on March 21, 1843.

Works (selection)


  • Wat Tyler
  • Joan of Arc (1792)
  • Thalaba, the Destroyer (1801)
  • Metrical Tales (1804)
  • Madoc (1805), about the possible discoverer of North America
  • The Curse of Kehama (1810)
  • Carmen Triumphant (1814)
  • Roderick, the last of the Goths (1814)
  • The Vision of Judgment (1821)


  • Amadis of Gaul (1803)
  • Palmerin of England (1807)
  • Chronicle of the Cid (1808)
  • History of the Brazils (1810-19)
  • Letters of Don Manuel Espriella from England to Spain
  • Letters from Spain and Portugal, and Travels in those Countries
  • An Account of the Madras System of Education, founded by Dr. Andrew Bell; Sir Thomas More's Cooloquies upon the Progress and Prospects of Society
  • Omniana
  • Book of the Church
  • History of the Peninsular War (1823-28)
  • Essays Moral and Political


  • The Life of Horatio Lord Nelson (1813)
German Nelson's life. A biographical painting , Stuttgart 1837 (online at Google Books )
  • The Life of Wesley; and the Rise and Progress of Methodism (2 vols., 1820)
dt. John Wesley's life, the emergence and spread of Methodism. Adapted from the English of Robert Southey. Edited by D. Friedr. Adolph Krummacher , Hamburg 1828 (online at Google Books: Volume 1 , Volume 2 ), new cheap edition Hamburg 1841
  • Life of Cowper
  • Life of Chatterton
  • Life of Kirke White of Nottingham


  • Robert Southey's death . In: Illustrirte Zeitung . No. 6 . J. J. Weber, Leipzig August 5, 1843, p. 95-96 ( Wikisource ).
  • Josef Viktor Widmann : The do-gooders. Historical novella. Publishing house of the literary society, Vienna 1896; Huber, Frauenfeld 1923 (novel about the idea of ​​the "pantisocracy" or "all-equal-rule" commune)

Web links

Commons : Robert Southey  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files