Thomas Gray

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Gray, Thomas,

1716–71, English poet. He was educated at Eton and Peterhouse, Cambridge. In 1739 he began a grand tour of the Continent with Horace WalpoleWalpole, Horace or Horatio, 4th earl of Orford,
1717–97, English author; youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole.
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. They quarreled in Italy, and Gray returned to England in 1741. He continued his studies at Cambridge, and he remained there for most of his life, living in seclusion, studying Greek, and writing. In 1768 he was made professor of history and modern languages, but he did no real teaching. Although he was reconciled with Walpole, and formed other close relationships in his lifetime, his shy and sensitive disposition was ill adapted to the robust century in which he lived. He was offered the laureateship in 1757 but refused it. His first important poems, written in 1742, include "To Spring," "On a Distant Prospect of Eton College," and a sonnet on the death of his close friend Richard West. After years of revision he finished his great "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" (1751), a meditative poem presenting thoughts conjured up by the sight of a rural graveyard; it is perhaps the most quoted poem in English. In 1757, Walpole published Gray's Pindaric odes, "The Progress of Poesy" and "The Bard." Gray's verse illustrates the evolution of English poetry in the 18th cent.—from the classicism of the 1742 poems to the romantic tendencies of "The Fatal Sisters" and "The Descent of Odin" (1768). He did not write a large amount of poetry. Much of his verse is tinged with melancholy, and even more of it reflects his extensive learning. His letters, which contain much humor, are among the finest in the English language.


See his collected works, ed. by E. Gosse (4 vol., rev. ed. 1902–6; repr. 1968); his correspondence, ed. by P. Toynbee and L. Whibley (1935, repr. 1971); selected letters, ed. by J. W. Krutch (1952); biographies by R. W. Ketton-Cremer (1955), M. Golden (1964), W. P. Jones (1937, repr. 1965); study by A. L. Sells (1980); A. T. McKenzie, Thomas Gray: A Reference Guide (1982).

Gray, Thomas


Born Dec. 26, 1716, in Cornhill, London; died July 30. 1771, in Cambridge. English poet.

Gray was educated at Cambridge University. His best work is the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751). Its melancholy, its idea of death as the equalizer of rich and poor, and its idealization of patriarchal country life make the poem a vivid model of sentimentalism and lyricism. In Russia, the elegy is well known in V. A. Zhukovskii’s translation (1802, under the title A Country Churchyard). In his later works Gray showed an interest in the traditions of popular history and mythology, which was characteristic of the period of the emergence of preromanticism.


The Works in Prose and Verse, vols. 1–4. London-New York 1902–06.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 1, fasc. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945. Pages 550–54.
Jones, W. P. Thomas Gray, Scholar. New York, 1965.


References in periodicals archive ?
"Thomas Warton, Thomas Gray, and the Recovery of the Past." Thomas Gray: Contemporary Essays.
It was art critic and social reformer John Ruskin writing a full century after the publication of Thomas Gray's poem who substituted Wordsworth for Milton.
More illuminating is Moll's examination of the as yet unedited Anglo-Norman Scalacronica of Thomas Gray, warden of Norham Castle, and another knight prisoner, held in Edinburgh from 1355 after being ambushed by the Earl of Douglas.
Thomas Gray's "Elegy" "has been endlessly reprinted, illustrated, translated, imitated, annotated, parodied, learned by heart and recited...." (3) It is, in short, universally recognized as a masterpiece of English literature even by those who speak of its so-called platitudes.
Thomas Gray came to Ar-kansas with the Air Force where he served for three years.
Thomas Gray encapsulated this point, [I] saw in my glass a picture, that if I could transmitt to you, & fix it in all the softness of its living colours, would fairly sell for a thousand pounds'.
For information on the proposed community projects, contact Thomas Gray at 804-786-1087.
One of the most important facts about Thomas Gray (1716-1771) is that he was the only one of his parents' twelve children to survive into adulthood, and survival is a recurrent theme in his poetry.
The essays in Dante's Modern Afterlife examine Dante's reception from Thomas Gray and William Blake to Samuel Beckett, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney.
Thomas Gray: The Progress of a Poet is the fifth book on Gray to
Anderson and Newman locate the impetus for nationalistic expressions in popular genres--Newman focuses on drama and the evolving novel--while poetry's contribution to British nationalism has only recently begun to receive exposure.(3) The case of Thomas Gray offers a unique exception to the focus on popular forms of literature by studies of nationalism.