A Local Guide to Poets Corner
Location of Poets Corner
The estate of Poets Corner is a late Victorian and Edwardian district, forming a section of the City of Bath conservation area. It consists of large terraced houses, and contains four avenues – Shakespeare, Milton, Kipling, and Longfellow. Each avenue leads directly perpendicular from the Wellsway, with Chaucer Road winding up the estate parallel to Wellsway.
Byron Road and Shelley Road also sit within the area, as well as Devonshire Place, Attewell Place, and Greenway Court.
A Brief History of Poets Corner
Poets Corner resides in Bear Flat, which sits within the south of central Bath and originates from the early era of King Edward VII’s reign. Once covered purely by farmland, the land was used to hold the Bath and West Show until the 1850’s, before the settlement was demolished during the late 19th century to make way for housing, when Poets Corner came into existence.
The surrounding slopes of Beechen Cliff were originally named Blake or Black Leigh, widely favoured by locals as the herb garden of Bath Apothecaries. The area was historically enjoyed by Jane Austen, John Wood, and Thomas Hardy, as well as the famous artist Walter Sickert who famously painted the area in his work titled ‘Paradise Row, Holloway’.
Poets Corner has seven local roads named after famous poets, but it’s not widely believed that this links to the origins of the area’s name. The estate was actually built by a family of religious builders, and is thought to possibly be a homage to Westminster Abbey’s own Poets Corner. Each poet cited within the estate is either buried or has a memorial within the area.
William Shakespeare (Shakespeare Avenue)
England’s most famous playwright, William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon Avon, and spent the vast majority of his life writing and acting in the comedies and tragedies we still know, love, and teach across the world today. He has a funeral monument dedicated to him in Westminster Abbey’s Poets Corner.
John Milton (Milton Avenue)
John Milton was born in London during 1608. After graduating from a college in Cambridge, Milton was appointed to the Secretary for Foreign Tongues by the Council of State in 1649. He tragically passed during 1674 from kidney failure, and also has a memorial in Westminster.
Rudyard Kipling (Kipling Avenue)
Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, India during 1865, named after a lake in Staffordshire where his parents first met. Kipling briefly studied at a school in Devon, before returning to India in 1882 to work as an editor and journalist. His first collection of prose was published in Calcutta during 1888 when he was just 22 years old. After his marriage to Carrie Balestier in 1892, he moved to Vermont with his new wife, where he wrote the Jungle Books. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907. At the ripe age of 70, he was laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Longfellow Avenue)
A poet and translator, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born during 1807 in Portland, and studied a total of ten European languages while travelling from 1826 to 1835. Longfellow joined the Smith Professorship of Modern Languages at Harvard College during 1836 and stayed in Cambridge for the rest of his life. During his final years, he dedicated his time to translating the poems of Michelangelo. He was laid to rest at the Mount Auburn Cemetery with both of his wives, and has a memorial dedicated to him in Westminster Abbey.
Geoffrey Chaucer (Chaucer Road)
Famous for his collection of twenty-four stories titled ‘The Canterbury Tales’, Geoffrey Chaucer was born in 1343 in London, and spent much of his life travelling around Spain and Italy. ‘The Wife of Bath’s Tale’ is one of the most well-known stories within the collection, which explores the transformation of an old hag into a beautiful maid. Chaucer spent his final year of life in Westminster Abbey, and was later buried there in 1400. However, his remains were later moved to a tomb within the Abbey during 1556, making him the first writer to rest within what we now know as Poets Corner.
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