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William S Wickenden

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Published : 1 Article
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Date of birth and death variously given; J.A. Venn, Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical list of All Known Students, Graduates and Holders of Office at the University of Cambridge (1940-1954) gives 1797-1864; author. Born in Forest of Dean; son of a farmer. Attended a village day school. Encouraged in his early writing by Dr. Edward Jenner, "who subsequently conferred on me the name of the 'Bard of the Forest', by which appelation I was afterwards so well known" ("A Sketch of the Early Life of the Author" in Wickenden, Poems and Tales). While still a farm labourer, published three books of verse and prose. Learning from Southey's memoir of Henry Kirke White that expenses of a sizar at Cambridge were not so great as he had thought, determined to enter St. John's College; matriculated 1821; his university life made difficult by his poverty and inadequate preparation. B.A. 1825. Ordained; held, in succession, three curacies, but his days plagued by illness and poverty. For many years received assistance from clerical funds. Author of some twenty books, e.g., The Rustic's Lay, and Other Poems, 1817; Adventures in Circassia, 1847; A Queer Book, 1850; Adventures before Sebastopol, 1855; Revelations of a Poor Curate, 1855.


Dickens subscribed to two copies of Wickenden's Some Remarkable Passages in the Life of William Wickenden, 1847 (list of subscribers in Passages). Wickenden dedicated to Dickens Adventures in Circassia. "I am sprung from the masses", he wrote, "and as you are the Friend of the People, I beg leave to inscribe to you the following pages, and I only regret that the offering is not more worthy of your acceptance".

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.

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