Francis William Bourdillon

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Francis William Bourdillon (22 March 1852 at Runcorn, Cheshire, England – 13 January 1921 at Buddington, Midhurst) was a British poet and translator. He is known also as a bibliophile.


Born at Trinity Parsonage, Halton Road, Runcorn, Cheshire, Francis William Bourdillon was the eldest son of Rev. Francis Bourdillon, the author, at that time perpetual curate of Runcorn. He was educated at Haileybury College and Worcester College, Oxford, graduating B.A. 1877, M.A. 1882. From 1876 to 1879, he acted as tutor to the sons of Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein.[1][2][3][4][5]

Later Bourdillon lived in Eastbourne,[6] and near Midhurst, Sussex.[7] His friends included Audrey Boyle (1853/4–1916), later as wife of Hallam Tennyson, 2nd Baron Tennyson, known as Audrey Lady Tennyson.[8][9]


Page from Young Maids & Old China
verses by Francis William Bourdillon, images by John George Sowerby

Bourdillon is known for his poetry, and in particular, for the single short poem "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes". He had many collections published, including Among The Flowers, And Other Poems (1878), Minuscula: lyrics of nature, art and love (1897, siftings of three smaller volumes of verse published anonymously at Oxford in 1891, 1892, and 1894), Gerard and Isabel: a Romance in Form of Cantefable (1921), and also Chryseis, and Preludes and Romances (1908).

In 1896, Bourdillon published Nephelé, a romantic novel. He translated Aucassin et Nicolette as Aucassin and Nicolet (1887), and he wrote the scholarly The Early Editions of the Roman de la Rose (1906) as well as Russia Reborn (1917) and various essays which the Religious Tract Society published.


Bourdillon married Agnes Smyth, and they lived at Buddington, near Midhurst. They had three children, including the World War I pilot and later medical researcher, Robert Benedict Bourdillon (1889–1971).[1] The mountaineer Tom Bourdillon (1924–1956) was a grandson.


  1. ^ a b Alcuin Blamires; Gail C. Holian (2002). The Romance of the Rose Illuminated: Manuscripts at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. University of Wales Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-7083-1751-8.
  2. ^ s:Alumni Oxonienses: the Members of the University of Oxford, 1715–1886/Bourdillon, Francis William
  3. ^ Stedman, Edmund Clarence (1895). "A Victorian Anthology 1837–1895". Internet Archive. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 682. Retrieved 13 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Bourdillon, Francis (BRDN841F)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  5. ^ "F.W. Bourdillon, Poet, Scholar, and Editor of old French Romances". The Times. 14 January 1921.
  6. ^ Eastbourne Memories, A Victorian Perspective of, notable events, Persons and town history – online book at
  7. ^ Nicholas Albery (editor), Poem for the Day, p. 89.
  8. ^ Audrey Tennyson; Zacyntha Antonia Lorenzina Boyle; Lady Alexandra Hasluck (1 January 1978). Audrey Tennyson's Vice-regal Days: The Australian Letters of Audrey Lady Tennyson to Her Mother Zacyntha Boyle, 1899–1903. National Library Australia. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-642-99115-7.
  9. ^ Rickard, Suzanne L.G. "Tennyson, Hallam". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/57219. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)

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