Born in Liverpool, Lancashire in 1861, Atherton spent his youth as a ploughboy but later took holy orders at St. Aidan's Theological College, Birkenhead, and afterwards became Rector of the parish church at Bolnhurst in Bedfordshire, a post he occupied for 15 years.
Whilst there, he began writing what became an extensive collection of verse which caused some to regard him as the 'Lancashire Burns'. During this time he acquired the nickname Robin O' Bobs and the reputation of an eccentric.
He left the church in 1904, and became a 'wandering poet', living for a time in Birmingham and Manchester before returning to his native Kirkby to live at Pear Tree Farm, where he resided until his death in 1930. He is buried in the churchyard of St. Chad's, Kirkby parish church.
List of works
- Village Life and Feeling. Songs and poems. Greening & Co., 1901; 2nd edn, 1907 (1st edition published under the pseudonym "Rupert Upperton"; the 2nd edition appeared under his real name)
- Poems of Friendship and Sympathy. Ancoats Printing Works, 1914
- When the Robin Sings and other verses. London 1924 (published under the pseudonym "Robin O'Bobs")
- From Plough to Parsonage: My Life's Story. No date, privately printed
Sources and references
- Swann, John Randall, 1924. Lancashire Authors: Series of Biographical Sketches. St. Anne's on Sea: Robertson (printer)
- Knowsley Local History: Kirkby - photograph
- Lancashire Public Libraries: titles of poems
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