Thomas Chatterton

1752 (Bristol, England) – 1770 (London)

Chatterton was admired as a forerunner by all of the major English Romantic poets (Keats dedicated ‘Endymion’ to him), even if the myth they fostered overshadowed his actual achievement. He was a precocious poet and forger of supposedly medieval literary documents, whose early garret death (whether accident or not) only helped promote his posthumous image. Aged sixteen, he sent the wealthy Walpole some of his work, hoping for patronage. Walpole, initially taken in, showed the manuscript to Thomas Gray, who saw it as the imaginative fakery it was; Walpole rebuffed Chatterton’s appeal for help, but regretted it for life.

Thomas Chatterton knew…