John Clare

Who was John Clare?

John Clare was a Romantic English poet who was widely known for his works such as The Rural Muse and Poems by John Clare. Today, Clare is known as one of the major 19th century poets.
Early Life-

John Clare was born on July 13th, 1793 in Helpston, United Kingdom. The son of a field laborer and an illiterate mother, Clare was never given much opportunity for education. His formal education only spans for the ability to allow himself to read and write. As a child, he began a career as a field worker, taking after his father. At the same time, he attended school in Glinton church until he was 12. Working, he became a potboy and met his future wife, Marie Joyce. He enlisted in the military, tried camp life with Gypsies, and worked in Pickworth as a lime burner in 1817. He also worked as a waiter, a gardener, and a farm hand. In the following year he was obliged to accept parish relief.[4] Malnutrition stemming from childhood may be the main culprit behind his 5-foot stature and may have contributed to his poor physical health in later life.
He was raised on a farm by his father, who was a field laborer and his mother, who was completely illiterate. Clare acquired only enough education to allow him to read and write. He was a poor agricultural farm worker forced to live a life of obscurity, devoid of any joys of recognition.This is why Clare is sometimes known as "the peasant poet." The way Clare learned how to write in prose was by reading works from other poets such as Milton, Wordsworth, and Coleridge. In 1820, his Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery was published and became very popular. Clare was admitted into the High Beach Asylum in 1837 for depression and suffering from delusions, but that did not stop him from writing poetry. Some of his best works, such as I Am and The Peasant Poet, came from the time when he was committed. Clare escaped the asylum in 1841 and walked 80 miles home, which is described in his work titled Journey Out of Essex. Later in 1841, Clare was admitted into Northampton General Lunatic Asylum where he spent the rest of his 23 years of life, writing some of his best work.


Clare found a publisher in 1818, just as his family was facing eviction from their cottage. Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery made Clare famous after it was published in 1820. His poems were primarily about the beauty of nature, rural life, and suffering.

"I became a scribbler for downright pleasure in giving vent to my feelings...I wrote because it pleased me in sorrow and when happier it makes me happier and so I go on."

My Mary
The Dream
The Spring Morning

I Am

The Peasant Poet

All Nature Has A Feeling


Images: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Clare.jpg
Northamptonshire Timeline: http://www.northamptonshiretimeline.com/scene/1793-john-clare/Norton Anthology: Norton Anthology, 9th Edition, Volume 2. Website: http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/romantic/welcome.htmJohn Clare Biography: http://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/john-clare-3363.php
Selected Poems of John Clare by Geoffrey Grigson