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George Darley was born in Dublin, to Arthur Darley and his wife Mary. The Darleys were an important Dublin family of their time, and related to the Guinnesses by marriage, Arthur's sister Mary having married Richard Guinness, whose uncle Arthur Guinness founded the Guinness brewing company. The Darleys also had a country house called Springfield in south County Dublin, near Enniskerry in County Wicklow, where George spent his early years.
George was awarded a BA in mathematics and classics from Trinity College Dublin in 1820. Having decided to follow a literary career, in 1821 he moved to London. He wrote poetry and plays in an attempt to break into literary circles, but had more luck getting published as a critic. During this period he supported himself by writing several mathematical texts for a series published by John Taylor (London) called Darley's Scientific Library. In later life, he fell into depression and died on 23 November 1846 in London.
Darley published his first poem, Errors of Ecstasie, in 1822. He also wrote for the London Magazine, under the pseudonym of John Lacy. In it appeared his best-known story, Lilian of the Vale, which Edgar Allan Poe thought had "wonderfully succeeded." Various other books followed, including Sylvia, or The May Queen, a poem (1827).
Thereafter Darley joined the Athenaeum, in which he became a severe critic. He was also a dramatist and studied old English plays, editing those of Beaumont and Fletcher in 1840. His poem "It is not beauty I desire" was included by F. T. Palgrave in the first edition of his Golden Treasury as an anonymous lyric of the 17th century.
He was also a mathematician, and published some treatises on the subject.
His works included:
- Syliva; or, The May Queen
- The Mermaidens' Vesper-Hymn
- The Sea-Bride
- Thomas à Beckett: A Dramatic Chronicle in Five Acts
- A System of Popular Algebra (John Taylor, London, 1826?).
- A System of Popular Geometry (John Taylor, London, 1826).
- A System of Popular Trigonometry (John Taylor, London, 1827).
- The Geometrical Companion (John Taylor, London, 1828).
- Familiar Astronomy (John Taylor, London, 1830).
A. E. Housman said of a passage from his poem Nepenthe, "Admirers of the sea may call that a lampoon or a caricature, but they cannot deny that it is life-like: the man who wrote it had seen the sea, and the man who reads it sees the sea again".
- Mary Guinness (Darley) at Geni.com
- The Irish Monthly, Volume 36 p. 231
- Pearson, Peter (1998). Between the Mountains and the Sea. Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County. p. 310, Dublin: O'Brien Press, ISBN 0-86278-582-0
- Cousin 1910.
- Barger, Andrew (2015). Middle Unearthed: The Best Fantasy Short Stories 1800-1849. Bottletree Books LLC. p. 94. ISBN 978-1-933747-53-8.
- Wood 1907.
- Housman 1989, p. 292.
- Housman, A.E. (1989). "Swinburne". Collected Poems and Selected Prose. Penguin Books. p. 292.
- Wood, James, ed. (1907). "Darley, George". The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). "Darley, George". A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource