Matthew Arnold: Poems

Subtle Radicalism in Arnold's Poetry

Matthew Arnold was born in 1822 in Laleham-on-Thames in Middlesex County, England. Due to some temporary childhood leg braces, (Machann, 1) and a competitiveness within the large family of nine (Culler xxi) young Matthew earned the nickname "Crabby". His disposition was described as active, but since his athletic pursuits were somewhat hindered by this correction of a "bent leg" (Machann 1), intellectual pursuits became more accessible to him. This may have led him to a literary career, but both his parents were literary (his mother wrote occasional verse and kept a journal, Machann 1) and scholarly, also, and this may have been what helped to accomplish the same aim. His father, Thomas Arnold, was a celebrated educator and headmaster of Rugby School, to which Matthew matriculated. He later attended Oxford, and, after a personal secretary-ship to Lord Lansdowne (Machann, 19) he was appointed Inspector of Schools. He spent most of his adult life traveling around England and sometimes the continent observing and reporting on the state of public schools, and his prose on education and social issues continues to be examined today (Machann xi). He also held the Chair of Poetry at Oxford for ten years, and wrote...

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