World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

James Henry (poet)

Article Id: WHEBN0001430003
Reproduction Date:

Title: James Henry (poet)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Irish poetry, Columcille the Scribe, Caitriona O'Reilly, Maurice Scully, Randolph Healy
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

James Henry (poet)

James Henry (13 December 1798 - 14 July 1876) was an Irish classical scholar and poet.


  • Life 1
  • Literary commentary 2
  • Poetry 3
  • Rediscovery 4
  • Posthumous publication 5
  • References 6


He was born in Dublin the son of a woollen draper, Robert Henry, and his wife Kathleen Elder. He was educated by Unitarian schoolmasters and then at Trinity College, Dublin. At age 11 he fell in love with the poetry of Virgil and got into the habit of always carrying a copy of the Aeneid in his left breast-pocket. In Trinity he graduated with the gold medal for Classics. He then turned to medicine and until 1845 he practised as a physician in Dublin city. In spite of his unconventionality and unorthodox views on religion and his own profession, he was very successful. He married Anne Jane Patton, from Donegal, and had three daughters, only one of whom, Katherine, born 1830, survived infancy.[1]

His accession to a large fortune in 1845 enabled him to devote himself entirely to the absorbing occupation of his life: the study of Virgil. Accompanied by his wife and daughter, he visited all those parts of Europe where he was likely to find rare editions or manuscripts of the poet.

When his wife died in Tyrol he continued his work with his daughter, who became quite a Virgil expert in her own right, and crossed the Alps seventeen times. After the death of his daughter in 1872 he returned to Dublin and continued his research at Trinity College, Dublin.[2]

He died at Dalkey, County Dublin.

Literary commentary

As a commentator on Virgil, Henry will always deserve to be remembered, notwithstanding the occasional eccentricity of his notes and remarks. The first fruits of his researches were published at Dresden in 1853 under the quaint title Notes of a Twelve Years Voyage of Discovery in the first six Books of the Eneis. These were embodied, with alterations and additions, in the Aeneidea, or Critical, Exegetical and Aesthetical Remarks on the Aeneis (1873-1892), of which only the notes on the first book were published during the author's lifetime. As a textual critic Henry was exceedingly conservative. His notes, written in a racy and interesting style, are especially valuable for their wealth of illustration and references to the less-known classical authors.


Henry was also the author of five collections of verse plus two long narrative poems describing his travels, and various pamphlets of a satirical nature.

At its best his poetry has something of the flavour of Robert Browning and Arthur Hugh Clough while at its worst it resembles the doggerel of William McGonagall. His five volumes of verse were all published at his own expense and received no critical attention either during or after his lifetime.


Henry was rediscovered by Christopher Ricks who included eight of his poems in the New Oxford Book of Victorian Verse (1987). Then there was silence for ten years until the Penguin Book of Victorian Verse included four of his poems. Valentine Cunningham included five of Henry's poems in The Victorians: an Anthology of Poetry and Poetics, published by Blackwell in 2000.

Posthumous publication

In 2002 Christopher Ricks edited with an introduction the Selected Poems of James Henry, published by The Lilliput Press (reviewed in The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement and The Sunday Telegraph).


  1. ^ Cunningham, Valentine (2000). The Victorians. Blackwell. p. 55.  
  2. ^ Boylan, Henry (1998). A Dictionary of Irish Biography, 3rd Edition. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan. p. 175.  
  • James Henry has an entry in the recently published Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Obituary notice by J. P. Mahaffy in the Academy of 12 August 1876, with a list of his works, nearly all of which were privately printed
  • Biographical information about the poet/his posthumous publisher
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.