The themes George Crabbe wrote about


George Crabbe was an English poet and clergyman. In his early years he worked as a surgeon. As a young man, his close friend Edmund Burke helped him greatly in advancing his literary career and guiding his career in the church. Burke introduced him to the literary and artistic society of London, including Sir Joshua Reynolds and Samuel Johnson. Burke also secured Crabbe the important position of Chaplain to the Duke of Rutland. Crabbe served as a clergyman in various capacities for the rest of his life. Later, he developed friendships with many of the great literary men of his day, such as Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth. Crabbe also had a lifelong interest in naturalism, entomology and botany, and was particularly known for his study of beetles. The poems that he is best known for are The Village (1783) and The Borough (1810).


Early Life

Crabbe was born in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. His father had been a teacher at a village school in Orford, Suffolk, and later Norton, near Loddon, Norfolk, before settling down as a taxcollector for salt duties, a position his own father had previously held.As a young man he married an older widow named Craddock, fathering six children with her. George was his eldest son. George spent his first 25 years close to his birthplace. He showed an aptitude for books and learning at an early age. He was sent to school while still very young, and developed an interest for the stories and ballads that were popular among his neighbors. His father owned a few books, and used to read passages from John Milton and other 18th century poets to George and the family. He also subscribed to a country magazine called Martin's Philosophical Magazine, giving the "poet's corner" section to George. George's father also had interests in the local fishing industry, and owned a fishing boat. He had first thought of raising George to be a seaman, but soon found that the boy had little proclivity for such a career.

George's father respected his son's interest in literature, and George was sent first to a boarding-school at Bungay near his home, and a few years later to a more important school at Stowmarket, where he gained an understanding of Mathematics and Latin and familiarity with the Latin classics. His early reading included the works of William Shakespeare, Alexander Pope, who had a great influence on George's future works, Abraham Cowley, Sir Walter Raleigh and Edmund Spenser. He spent 3 years at Stowmarket before leaving school to find a physician to be apprenticed to, as medicine had been settled on as his future career.

In 1768 he was apprenticed to a local doctor at Wickhambrook, near Bury St Edmunds. This doctor practiced medicine while also keeping a small farm, and George ended up doing more farm labour and errands than medical work. In 1771 he changed masters and moved to Woodbridge. He remained here until 1775. While at Woodbridge he joined a small club of young men who met on certain evenings at an inn for discussions. Through his contacts at Woodbridge he met his future wife, Sarah Elmy. Crabbe called her "Mira", later referring to her by this name in some of his poems. During this time he had begun practicing writing poetry. In 1772 A lady's magazine offered a prize for the best poem on the subject of hope, which Crabbe won. The same magazine printed other short pieces of Crabbe's throughout 1772. They were signed "G. C., Woodbridge," and included some of his lyrics addressed to Mira. Other known verses written while he was at Woodbridge show that he made experiments in stanza form modeled on the works of earlier English poets, but only showing some slight imitative skill.

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