This is the first full-scale biography of the poet and playwright for forty years. On the personal side it places him in his social and cultural setting: as a welcome member of the disparate circles that surrounded Alexander Pope, Richard Savage, Aaron Hill, James Quin, George Bubb Dodington, George Lyttelton, Lady Hertford, and Frederick, Prince of Wales. More significantly, for the first time Thomson's involvement in politics is thoroughly explored. The analysis
of his Scottish Whiggism and his role as the poet of Britannia and Liberty places the poetry in a clear ideological light, which at once deepens our understanding of Thomson the man, and illuminates the political groupings of the period. Drawing on his deep understanding of
Thomson's poetry, which he edited for the Oxford English Texts series, James Sambrook also supplies a full critical analysis of the whole body of Thomson's writings that is unrivalled in its depth. This new Life maintains an even balance between biography, history, and literary criticism, and forms both an impressive study of the man and a companion to the highly praised Oxford English Texts edition of the poems.
`meticulous editor ... Sambrook has assembled all the essentials on James Thomson, and it would need a lot more inessentials to take us any further into the man.'
Pat Rogers, Times Literary Supplement
`a work of distinguished scholarship'
Chloe Chard, Financial Times
`James Sambrook, who has already produced a magnificent edition of Thomson's poetry, has now given us this excellent, judicious and perceptive biography.'
David Nokes, The Spectator,
'James Sambrook ... has written what must now be regarded as the definitive biography of Thomson. It is stunning in its meticulous detail and clarity. It produces a level of scholarship and research utterly thorough and rarely seen now or at any time. The biography excellently weaves together, in discriminating fashion, original sources and documents. One has confidence that what could have been unearthed has been. This is an excellent biography not only
for Thomson scholars and readers, but for students and readers of 18th-c. English literature in general.'
James Engell, Archiv, 1992
'Professor Sambrook's delightful; Life of Thomson will be justifiably recognized as the standard modern biography of the man best known as the poet of The Seasons. In the course of ten enlightening chapters Sambrook exhaustively but sympathetically treats the pertinent literary, political and personal dimensions of his subject's life. The even balance the author maintains between literary criticism, history and biography will be greatly
appreciated by readers from a variety of disciplines. This Life is a valuable addition to Sambrook's other considerable contributions to Thomsonian studies.'
George Tresidder, Goldsmiths' College, London, British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies
'... although the new Life demonstrates Sambrook's unparalleled knowledge of the texts, it is his emphasis on Thomson as a poet of politics, rather thatn nature, that distinguishes it from earlier studies. What emerges with great clarity is the intricate nature of the relationship between poet and patron, ... a masterpiece of unspeculative, unsensationalized research.'
Fiona Stafford. Somerville College, Oxford. review of English Studies Vol XLV May '94
Scotland 1700-1725; London and "Winter" 1725-1726; a rising poet - "Summer", "Newton", "Spring", "Britannia" 1726-1729; recognition - "Sophonisba" and "The Seasons" 1730; the grand tour and the establishment 1730-1733; the poet of "Liberty" 1734-1736; His Highness' man at Kew - "Talbot" and "Agamemnon" 1737-1738; censored - "Edward and Eleonora" and "Alfred" 1738-1742; courtship - revised "Seasons" and "Tancred and Sigismunda" 1742-1745; last years - "The Castle of Indolence" and "Coriolanus" 1746-1748. Appendix: Portraits of Thomson.