Winthrop Mackworth Praed

(1802 - 1839 / England)

Biography of Winthrop Mackworth Praed

Winthrop Mackworth Praed (28 July 1802 – 15 July 1839) was an English politician and poet.

He was born in London. The family name of Praed was derived from the marriage of the poet's great-grandfather to a Cornish heiress. Winthrop's father, William Mackworth Praed, was a serjeant-at-law. His mother belonged to the English branch of the New England family of Winthrop. In 1814 Praed was sent to Eton College, where he founded a manuscript periodical called Apis matina. This was succeeded in October 1820 by the Etonian, a paper projected and edited by Praed and Walter Blount, which appeared every month until July 1821, when the chief editor, who signed his contributions "Peregrine Courtenay," left Eton, and the paper died. Henry Nelson Coleridge, William Sidney Walker, and John Moultrie were the three best known of his collaborators on this periodical, which was published by Charles Knight, and of which details are given in Knight's Autobiography and in Maxwell Lyte's Eton College.

Before Praed left school he had established, over a shop at Eton, a "boys' library," the books of which were later amalgamated in the School Library. His career at Trinity College, Cambridge was a brilliant one. He gained the Browne medal for Greek verse four times, and the Chancellor's Gold Medal for English verse twice in 1823 and 1824.He was bracketed third in the classical tripos in 1825, won a fellowship at his college in 1827, and three years later carried off the Seatonian prize. At the Union his speeches were rivalled only by those of Macaulay and of Charles Austin, who subsequently made a great reputation at the parliamentary bar. The character of Praed during his university life is described by Bulwer Lytton in the first volume of his Life.

His poems were first edited by R. W. Griswold (New York, 1844); another American edition, by W. A. Whitmore, appeared in 1859; an authorized edition with a memoir by Derwent Coleridge appeared in 1864: The Political and Occasional Poems of W. M. Praed (1888), edited with notes by his nephew, Sir George Young, included many pieces collected from various newspapers and periodicals. Sir George Young separated from his work some poems, the work of his friend Edward FitzGerald, generally confused with his. Praed's essays, contributed to various magazines, were published in Morley's Universal Library in 1887.

Praed was not only successful at Eton during his lifetime, but a society still exists that bears his name. The "Praed" society is the poetry society currently existing at Eton. It occurs at a Beak's House, the current beak being The Head of English, Mr Francis, and is exclusive even at the school, where membership and attendance can only occur if one is spotted and invited. It is not surprising therefore, that it is little known and has not been referred to, although it will appear in the school's official list of societies in Fixtures.

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Fairy Song

HE has conn'd the lesson now;
   He has read the book of pain:
There are furrows on his brow;
   I must make it smooth again.

Lo! I knock the spurs away;
   Lo! I loosen belt and brand;
Hark! I hear the courser neigh
   For his stall in Fairy-land.

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