Philip Pendleton Cooke

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Philip Pendleton Cooke (October 26, 1816 – January 20, 1850) was an American lawyer and minor poet from Virginia. He was the brother of John Esten Cooke.

Biography[edit]

Cooke was born on October 26, 1816,[1] in Martinsburg when it was then part of Virginia and spent the majority of his life in the northern part of the Shenandoah Valley.[2] He attended Princeton University, where he wrote the poems "Song of the Sioux Lovers", Autumn", and "Historical Ballads, No. 6 Persian: Dhu Nowas", as well as a short story, "The Consumptive" before his graduation in 1834.[3] After graduation, he followed in his father's profession as a lawyer. His two main hobbies, however, were hunting and writing, though he never made a profession out of his writing.[1] He once wrote: "I detest the law. On the other hand, I love the fever-fits of composition."[4]

He died January 20, 1850.[1]

Writings[edit]

Cooke believed his literary sustenance came from his library rather than from writing, despite several important literary figures — including John P. Kennedy and Rufus Wilmot Griswold — who encouraged him to write more. Edgar Allan Poe praised his work and wrote to him that he would "give your contributions a hearty welcome, and the choicest position in the magazine".[5] By 1835, he resolved to give up on poetry entirely.[6] He believed that poetry was as barren "as a worn-out tobacco field" and that even William Cullen Bryant, who he considered "the master of them all", had "sheltered himself from starvation behind the columns of a political newspaper" rather than making money from poetry.[7] By 1847, the Southern Literary Messenger reported that Cooke had turned into a prose writer.[8]

Cooke was well-read and his poetry was inspired by Edmund Spenser, Geoffrey Chaucer and Dante Aligheri.[9] He also admired the prose work of Poe, which he told in a letter:

I have always found some remarkable thing in your stories to haunt me long after reading them. The teeth in Berenice—the changing eyes of Morella—that red & glaring crack in the House of Usher—the pores of the deck in the MS. Found in a Bottle—the visible drops falling into the goblet in Ligeia.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Trent, William Peterfield. Southern Writers: Selections in Prose and Verse. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1905: 276.
  2. ^ Hubbell, Jay B. The South in American Literature: 1607-1900. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1954: 502.
  3. ^ Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982: 192. ISBN 0-19-503186-5
  4. ^ Parks, Edd Winfield. Ante-Bellum Southern Literary Critics. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1962: 139
  5. ^ Parks, Edd Winfield. Ante-Bellum Southern Literary Critics. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1962: 138
  6. ^ Hubbell, Jay B. The South in American Literature: 1607-1900. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1954: 505.
  7. ^ Parks, Edd Winfield. Ante-Bellum Southern Literary Critics. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1962: 136
  8. ^ Hubbell, Jay B. The South in American Literature: 1607-1900. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1954: 509.
  9. ^ Parks, Edd Winfield. Ante-Bellum Southern Literary Critics. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1962: 137
  10. ^ Meyers, Jeffrey. Edgar Allan Poe: His Life and Legacy. New York: Cooper Square Press, 1992: 180. ISBN 0-8154-1038-7