John Keble, an English poet, born near Fairford, Gloucestershire, April 25, 1792, died at Bournemouth, Hampshire, March 29, 1866. He graduated at Oriel college, Oxford, in 1810, obtaining a double first in classics and mathematics, a distinction never gained before that time, except in the instance of Sir Robert Peel in 1808. For some years afterward he was a fellow, master of the schools, examiner, and college tutor. In 1815 he was ordained, and in 1823 he resigned his Oxford employments to accept the curacies of Eastleach, Burthorpe, and Southrop, the united receipts of which did not amount to more than £100 a year. In 1824 he refused an archdeaconry in the West Indies, worth £2,000 a year, which was pressed upon him by William Hart Coleridge, bishop of Bar-badoes; and a year afterward he accepted the curacy of Hursley. In 1832 he was made professor of poetry at Oxford, and he held that post for two periods of five years each. His lectures were in Latin, and were published under the title of Praelectiones Academicae (2 vols., 1832-'40). In 1833 he was appointed to deliver the summer assize sermon at Oxford, which was subsequently published under the title of "National Apostasy," and was memorialized by Dr. Newman in his " Apologia " as "the start of the religious movement" of that time.
Of the "Tracts for the Times" (Oxford, 1833-'41), Keble wrote Nos. 4, 13, 40, and 89. In 1835 he became vicar of Hursley and rector of Otterbourne, which livings he held till his death. His principal works are: "The Christian Year: Thoughts in Verse for the Sundays and Holidays throughout the Year" (2 vols., Oxford, 1827); "The Psalter, or Psalms of David in English Verse " (1839); "Lyra Innocentium: Thoughts in Verse on Children," etc. (1846); and several volumes of academical and occasional sermons. He edited and annotated the complete works of Richard Hooker (4 vols., 1836); in 1837, with Dr. Newman, he edited "Froude's Remains;" in 1838, with Dr. Newman and Dr. Pusey, he began the editing and annotation of the Oxford edition of the "Library of the Fathers," which in a few succeeding years grew into a series of 39 octavo volumes. He is author of the much commended article on " Sacred Poetry " in vol. xxxii. of the London " Quarterly Review." " The Christian Year " is the most remarkable of his works. It was first published anonymously, and within 25 years 108,000 copies had been printed in 43 editions. Nine months after the author's death the 100th edition was reached, with a total circulation, in English editions and American reprints, of not less than 500,000 copies.
It has appeared in all sizes, and some editions, and separate poems, like the " Evening and Morning Hymns," have been profusely illustrated and illuminated. In 1867 M. Fyler produced in a quarto volume 686 illustrations of poetic imagery from "The Christian Year." A comprehensive and minute " Concordance" has been published. Charlotte Mary Yonge published "Musings on The Christian Year" (London, 1870). Keble retained his copyright till his death, and from the profits of the book, in 1846-'8, the ancient cumbrous brick church of Hursley was replaced by one of the most beautiful parish churches in the kingdom. The copyright expired March 29, 1873, and within five weeks ten different editions were issued by London publishers. Since his death Keble college, Oxford, has been founded in his honor. The best biography of Keble is by Sir John Taylor Coleridge (London, 1868; 4th ed., 1874).