Algernon Charles Swinburne

Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.

Swinburne, Algernon Charles


Born Apr. 5, 1837, in London; died Apr. 10, 1909, in Putney (London). English poet, playwright, and critic.

Swinburne studied at Eton and at Oxford University, where he became closely associated with D. G. Rossetti and other Pre-Raphaelites. His first series of verse collections, Poems and Ballads (1866), was fiercely attacked by bourgeois conservative critics for its daring treatment of “forbidden” (erotic) themes and for its pagan hedonism. In his later works—which included tragedies, novels, and literary monographs, as well as poems— Swinburne coupled his call for moral freedom with an appeal for political freedom. In A Song of Italy (1867) and Songs Before Sunrise (1871), for example, the poet reveals himself to be a confirmed republican and enemy of the church. The theme of man’s struggle against the supreme divine will runs through his verse drama Atalanta in Calydon (1865). Swinburne’s collections of the 1870’s are marked by their romantic, pastoral, and philosophical lyrics; fatalism and the impossibility of happiness occur there, too, as themes. Swinburne reformed English prosody and imparted a special beauty of sound to his poetry. He was also the author of tragedies, dramas in verse, novels, and literary criticism.


Complete Works, vols. 1–20. London, 1925–27.
Letters, vols. 1–6. New Haven, Conn., 1959–62.
New Writings. Syracuse, N.Y., 1964.
In Russian translation:
Antología novoi angliiskoi poezii. Leningrad, 1937.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1958.
Fuller, J. O. Swinburne: A Critical Biography. London, 1968.
Swinburne: The Critical Heritage. London, 1970.
Raymond, M. R. Swinburne’s Poetics. The Hague-Paris, 1971.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
Apart from that article, Herbert Tucker's "What Goes Around: Swinburne's Century of Roundels," in Algernon Charles Swinburne : Unofficial Laureate, ed.
5) Algernon Charles Swinburne, The Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne, 6 vol.
4) Algernon Charles Swinburne, "Charles Baudelaire: Les Fleurs du Mal," Spectator (September 6, 1862): 999.
16) Such butterflies appear earlier in "Off Shore" (Studies in Song, 1880)--where they add to the grace and triumph of the sun-god upon the waters--and later in "Envoi" (A Century of Roundels, 1883), where they represent the small, delicate lyrics of the book they close, and seem also to represent human utterance and perhaps human souls flying "to the haven where each would be" (The Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne [London: Chatto and Windus, 1905], 5:51-52, 193).
36) Edmund Gosse, The Life of Algernon Charles Swinburne, in The Complete Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, ed.
8) Atalanta in Calydon, in The Collected Poetical Works of Algernon Charles Swinburne, 6 vols.
9) Algernon Charles Swinburne, "Notes on the Designs of the Old Masters at Florence," in Essays and Studies (London, 1875), pp.
Reprinted in Uncollected Letters of Algernon Charles Swinburne, 3 vols.
5) The Boyhood of Algernon Charles Swinburne (London: Chatto and Windus, 1917), pp.
9) See The Poems of Algernon Charles Swinburne (London: Chatto and Windus, 1904-05), 6:127-140.
Algernon Charles Swinburne died on April 10, 1909 at the age of seventy-two.