Dobell, Sydney Thompson


Dobell, Sydney Thompson

▪ British poet
born April 5, 1824, Cranbrook, Kent, Eng.
died Aug. 22, 1874, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire
 English poet of the so-called Spasmodic school.

      The long dramatic poem The Roman (1850), which Dobell published under the name Sydney Yendys, celebrated the cause of Italian liberation. Another long poem, Balder (1853), is concerned with the inner life of a poet who kills his wife after she has gone mad. It was devastatingly burlesqued in Firmilian: . . . a Spasmodic Tragedy (1854) by William Edmondstoune Aytoun (Aytoun, William Edmondstoune), who, with Charles Kingsley (Kingsley, Charles), deemed Dobell one of the poets of the Spasmodic school, a term they used to ridicule the formlessness, chaotic imagery, and exaggerated passion of these poets' work. The aesthetic of the Spasmodic school was expressed by Dobell in a number of essays collected in 1876 as Thoughts on Art, Philosophy, and Religion. Dobell collaborated with Alexander Smith on a sonnet sequence (1855) on the Crimean War and published a collection of shorter poems, England in Time of War (1856), which contains the powerful ballad "Keith of Ravelston."

Additional Reading
E.J. (Emily Jolly) (ed.), The Life and Letters of Sydney Dobell, 2 vol. (1878); Mark A. Weinstein, William Edmondstoune Aytoun and the Spasmodic Controversy (1968).

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  • Dobell, Sydney Thompson — (1824 1874)    Born at Cranbrook, Kent, he was one of the socalled Spasmodic school of poets. His father was a wine merchant, his mother the daughter of the political reformer Samuel Thompson. The family moved to Cheltenham when Dobell was twelve …   British and Irish poets

  • Dobell, Sydney Thompson — (1824 1874)    Poet, b. at Cranbrook, Kent, s. of a wine merchant, who removed to Cheltenham, where most of the poet s life was passed. His youth was precocious (he was engaged at 15 and m. at 20). In 1850 his first work, The Roman, appeared, and …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

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