Robert, an English author, born in Bristol, Aug. 12, 1774, died at Greta hall, near Keswick, March 21, 1843. In his 14th year he was placed at Westminster school, the expenses being borne by a maternal uncle. For publishing in "The Flagellant," a periodical started by him and his associates, a satirical article on corporal punishment, he was expelled in 1792. He entered Balliol college, Oxford, in January, 1793, accepted with enthusiasm the liberal ideas to which the French revolution had given currency, and began his career of unparalleled industry as a man of letters. He wrote in 1793 the dramatic poem of "Wat Tyler," first published surreptitiously in 1817, which was assailed in the house of commons as seditious. With Coleridge and Lovell he formed the abortive plan of a panti-socracy, or perfect society, on the banks of the Susquehanna, He left the university in 1794, published in connection with Lovell a volume of "Poems" (1794), and received from Cottle 50 guineas for his "Joan of Arc" (1795), an epic poem, which was favorably received.
In 1795- '6 he spent six months with his uncle in the Peninsula, and published "Letters written during a Short Residence in Spain and Portugal " (1797). In 1797 he went to London to study law, but soon took lodgings for most of the time in the country, and continued his literary pursuits. He was the editor and principal writer of the " Annual Anthology " for 1799 and 1800. His health failing, he again visited Portugal in 1800, and collected materials for a history of that country. For his second epic poem, " Thalaba, the Destroyer " (2 vols. 12mo, 1801), he received 100 guineas. The post of secretary to the chancellor of the exchequer for Ireland was offered to him with a salary of £350, but he soon resigned what he termed " a foolish office and a good salary." In 1804 he settled at Greta, near Keswick, where Coleridge was living, and about 14 m. from Wordsworth at Grasmere. From this time he appears in his writings as an uncompromising monarchist and churchman, and his life was marked by untiring and cheerful labor, and by repeated acts of generosity.
He received as permanent inmates of his house the wives of Lovell and Coleridge, sisters of his own wife, assisted in editing the works of Chatterton for the benefit of the sister of that poet, and extended his kindness to several unfortunate poets, among whom was Henry Kirke White, whose "Remains" he edited with a biography. He visited and formed a life-long intimacy with Sir Walter Scott in 1805; became an occasional contributor to the "Quarterly Review;" received in 1807 a pension of £1*60; undertook in 1809 the historical department of the " Edinburgh Annual Register;" was appointed poet laureate in 1813; received the degree of LL. D. from the university of Oxford in 1821; visited Holland in 1825, and remained three weeks at Leyden in the house of Bilderdijk; declined the offer of a baronetcy in 1835, but accepted an addition of £300 to his pension; and made a tour in Normandy and Brittany in 1837. His intense and protracted activity had now resulted in mental prostration; his memory failed, and his recognition of time and place gave way, and during the last year there was an utter extinction of his faculties.
He left at his death one of the most remarkable private libraries in England, which was sold by auction in London. - There is scarcely a department of literature in which Southey did not engage. His three best poems are "Tha-laba, the Destroyer" (1801), an Arabian tale, "The Curse of Kehama" (1810), founded upon fables of the Hindoo mythology; and "Roderick, the Last of the Goths" (1814), the subject of which is the fall of the Gothic dominion in Spain. "Madoc," one of his longer poems, is founded on traditions of Welsh voyages to America. His principal prose works, besides his translations of "Amadis de Gaul" and the "Chronicle of the Cid " from the Spanish, and of " Palmerin of England" from the Portuguese, are: "History of Brazil" (3 vols. 4to, 1810-'19); "Life of Nelson" (2 vols. 8vo, 1813); " Life of John Wesley" (2 vols., 1820); "History of the Peninsular War" (3 vols. 4to, 1822-'32); " Book of the Church " (2 vols. 8vo, 1824); "Sir Thomas More, or Colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of Society" (2 vols., 1829); " Life of John Bunyan" (1830); " Essays, Moral and Political" (2 vols., 1832); and "The Doctor" (7 vols., 1834-'7; best ed., 1 vol., London, 185G). His curious erudition is happily shown in the last, and also in his " Commonplace Book," of which four volumes were edited after his death by his son-in-law, the Rev. J. W. Warter. Southey collected his poetical works (10 vols., 1837-'8), and Mr. Warter has published four volumes of his "Letters" (1856). His life was written by his son, the Rev. C. C. Southey, in which is interwoven his correspondence with many distinguished men of his time (6 vols., 1849-'50).
Caroline Anne Bowles, second wife of the preceding, born at Buckland, Hampshire, Dec. 6, 1787, died July 20, 1854. She was the only child of Capt. Charles Bowles, a retired officer. She published "Ellen Fitz-Arthur," a poem (1820); " The Widow's Tale, and other Poems" (1822); "Solitary Hours, Prose and Verse" (1826); and "Chapters on Churchyards" (2 vols., 1829). In 1839 she married Robert Southey, between whom and herself a long friendship had existed. They had planned to write many works together; but only two or three fragmentary volumes appeared as their joint production.