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Robert Southey (1774-1843), Poet Laureate

Sitter in 17 portraits
A poet and man of letters, Southey was a youthful republican whose enthusiasm for the French Revolution can be seen in The Fall of Robespierre which he wrote with Coleridge in 1794. In 1803 he joined Coleridge in the Lake District where he met Wordsworth. The three were dubbed the 'Lake School' by the critic Francis Jeffrey. Southey was Poet Laureate from 1813 to his death. Despite Byron's quip about his 'blank verse and blanker prose', his prose is commonly regarded as superior to his poetry. He wrote numerous essays and reviews for the periodical press. His association with the Tory Quarterly Review signalled the beginning of his role as a spokesman for the conservative establishment.