John Clare

1793 (Helpston, England) – 1864 (Northampton)

The ‘peasant poet’ Clare met Lamb, Hazlitt, Coleridge and de Quincey on his second or third London visit, at the London Magazine’s editor’s literary dinners. Lamb (who became a particular friend) and Hazlitt (whom he admired for his originality) shared with him an appreciation of old poets; De Quincey regretted his taste for “French actresses”, while he was astonished by de Quincey’s oddness and vulgarity. While Clare enjoyed these boozy evenings and other London attractions, his literary socialising sadly only alienated him from his fellow-villagers. No-one knows whether Tennyson and he, in the same asylum at the same time, actually met.