John Clare, an English poet, born at Help-stone, July 13, 1793, died at Northampton, May 19, 1864. He was the son of a poor farmer, and enjoyed very few advantages of early education, He began to write verses at the age of 13, but it was not till 1818 that he attracted public attention by the publication of his "Collection of Original Trifles." This led to the publication in 1820 of a volume of poems, with a brief biographical introduction, and bearing the title of " Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery, by John Clare, a Northamptonshire Peasant," which was received with general favor by the public and the reviews. In a short time numerous gifts of from £10 to £100 were bestowed upon him, and finally an annuity of £45. He married the daughter of a neighboring farmer, whom he had celebrated in several small poems. He published in 1821 "The Village Minstrel and other Poems,'1 which was followed by the "Shepherd's Calendar and other Poems," and the " Rural Muse," which appeared in 1836. These contained some poems of rare beauty. He often described with peculiar force the impression made upon the mind by the sight of lovely objects in nature. His prosperity did not continue long after this.
He fell into pecuniary embarrassment, and amid increasing difficulties sank into a state of despair and mild lunacy. He was for many years in a private asylum at Northampton. - See "Life and Remains of John Clare," by J. L. Cherry (London, 1873).