The themes James Bayard Taylor wrote about
James Bayard Taylor was an American poet, literary critic, translator, and travel author.
Life and Work
He was born on January 11, 1825, in Kennett Square in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He was the fourth son, first to live to maturity, of Joseph and Rebecca (née Way) Taylor. His father was a well-to-do farmer and young Bayard received his early instruction in an academy at West Chester, and later at Unionville. At the age of seventeen he was apprenticed to a printer in West Chester. His interest in poetry was coached by influential critic and editor Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who encouraged him to produce a volume of poetry. Published at Philadelphia in 1844 under the title Ximena, or the Battle of the Sierra Morena, and other Poems was dedicated to Griswold,though it brought its author little profit; and indirectly it did him better service as the means of his introduction to The New York Tribune.
With the money thus obtained, and with an advance made to him on account of some journalistic work to be done in Europe, JB Taylor (as he had up to this time signed himself, though he bore no other Christian name than Bayard) set sail for the East. The young poet spent a happy time in roaming through certain districts of England, France, Germany and Italy; that he was a born traveler is evident from the fact that this pedestrian tour of almost two years cost him only £100. The graphic accounts which he sent from Europe to The New York Tribune, The Saturday Evening Post, and The United States Gazette were so highly appreciated that on Taylor's return to America he was advised to throw his articles into book form.
In 1846, accordingly, appeared his Views Afoot, or Europe seen with Knapsack and Staff (2 vols, New York). This pleasant book had considerable popularity, and its author now found himself a recognized man of letters. He was asked to serve as an editorial assistant for Graham's Magazine for a few months in 1848. That same year, Horace Greeley, then editor of the Tribune, placed Taylor on the Tribune staff thus securing Taylor a certain if a moderate income. His next journey, made when the gold-fever was at its height, was to California, as correspondent for the Tribune. From this expedition he returned by way of Mexico, and, seeing his opportunity, published (2 vols, New York, 1850) a highly successful book of travels, entitled El Dorado; or, Adventures in the Path of Empire. Ten thousand copies were said to have been sold in America, and thirty thousand in Great Britain, within a fortnight from the date of issue.
Bayard Taylor always considered himself native to the East, and it was with great delight that in 1851 he found himself on the banks of the Nile, He ascended as far as 12' 30° N, and stored his memory with countless sights and delights, to many of which he afterwards gave expression in metrical form. From England, towards the end of 1852, he sailed for Calcutta, proceeding thence to China, where he joined the expedition of Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry to Japan.
The results of these journeys (besides his poetical memorials) were A Journey to Central Africa; or, Life and Landscapes from Egypt to the Negro Kingdoms of the White Nile (New York, 1854); The Lands of the Saracen; or, Pictures of Palestine, Asia Minor, Sicily and Spain (1854); and A Visit to India, China and Japan in the Year 1853 (1855).
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