William Shenstone

(1714 - 1763 / England)

Biography of William Shenstone

William Shenstone poet

Born in 1714 in Halesowen (now Worcestershire) England living at the family home 'The Leasowes'. Halesowen, which, up to the early years of the 18th century was in part of Shropshire. He was educated at Solihull Grammar School, where he met and became firm friends with the future poet Richard Jago, before going on to study at Pembroke College, Oxford, but without taking a degree. On inheriting 'The Leasowes' he spent much time and money on landscaping the estate.
He was a poet of diverse taste, his father recognising his talent when a young boy, had strived to send his son to Oxford to study theology but William showed no real interest, preferring poetry, odes, elegies, ballads and correspondence of which he was particularly proud.
Shenstone's work is somewhat self-conscious and pretty and is scarcely remembered today, with the possible exception of the pastoral poem The Schoolmistress (1742), written in the style of Edmund Spenser. This was praised by Dr. Johnson and Thomas Gray, the latter's Elegy written in a country churchyard (1751) being in a similar style.

William Shenstone died in 1763.

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A Parody

When first, Philander, first I came
Where Avon rolls his winding stream,
The nymphs, how brisk, the swains, how gay,
To see Asteria, queen of May!
The parsons round her praises sung!
The steeples with her praises rung!-
I thought no sight that e'er was seen
Could match the sight of Barel's Green!

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