Henry Francis Cary

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Henry Cary
Rev. Henry Francis Cary.jpg
Portrait by his son, Francis Stephen Cary
Born Henry Francis Cary
6 December 1772 (1772-12-06)
Died 14 August 1844 (1844-08-15)
Cause of death Heart attack
Resting place Westminster Abbey
Residence Cannock, then Abbots Bromley, then Kingsbury, then London
Nationality British
Education in Uxbridge, then Rugby School, then Sutton Coldfield Grammar School then Birmingham Grammar School
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Occupation Poet, clergyman, translator and librarian
Employer British Museum
Known for His blank verse translation of The Divine Comedy of Dante.[1]
Home town London
Religion Anglican
Spouse(s) Jane Ormsby
Children William Lucius, Jane Sophia, Henrietta, James Walter, Henry, Charles Thomas, Francis Stephen, John and Richard
Parent(s) William Cary
Henrietta Brocas

Rev. Henry Francis Cary (6 December 1772 – 14 August 1844) was a British author and translator, best known for his blank verse translation of The Divine Comedy of Dante.[1]


Henry Francis Cary was born in Gibraltar, on 6 December 1772. He was the eldest son of William Cary, at the time a Captain of the First Regiment of Foot, by Henrietta daughter of Theophilus Brocas, Dean of Killala. His grandfather, Henry Cary was archdeacon, and his great grandfather, Mordecai Cary, bishop of that diocese.[2]

The Dante translation with Gustave Doré illustrations.

He was educated at Rugby School and at the grammar schools of Sutton Coldfield and Birmingham, and at Christ Church, Oxford, which he entered in 1790 and studied French and Italian literature. While at school he regularly contributed to the Gentleman's Magazine, and published a volume of Sonnets and Odes. He took holy orders and in 1797 became vicar of Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire. He held this benefice until his death. In 1800 he also became vicar of Kingsbury in Warwickshire.

At Christ Church he studied French and Italian literature which can be seen in his notes to his translation of Dante. The version of the Inferno was published in 1805 together with the original text.

Cary moved to London in 1808, where he became reader at the Berkeley Chapel and subsequently lecturer at Chiswick and curate of the Savoy Chapel. His version of the whole Divina Commedia in blank verse appeared in 1814. It was published at Cary's own expense, as the publisher refused to undertake the risk, owing to the failure incurred over the Inferno. The translation was brought to the notice of Samuel Rogers by Thomas Moore. Rogers made some additions to an article on it by Ugo Foscolo in the Edinburgh Review. This article, and praise bestowed on the work by Coleridge in a lecture at the Royal Institution, led to a general acknowledgment of its merit. Cary's Dante gradually took its place among standard works, passing through four editions in the translator's lifetime.

In 1833 Cary was granted 6 month's leave of absence because of illness and went with his manservant and his son Francis to Italy visiting Amiens, Paris, Lyons, Aix, Nice, Mentone, Genoa, Pisa, Florence, Sienna, Rome (a month), Naples, Bologna, Verona, Venice (a month), Innsbruck, Munich, Nuremburg, Frankfurt, Cologne, Rotterdam, The Hague, Amsterdam, Brussels, Ghent and Bruges.

In 1824 Cary published a translation of The Birds of Aristophanes, and, about 1834, of the Odes of Pindar. In 1826 he was appointed assistant-librarian in the British Museum, a post which he held for about eleven years. He resigned because the appointment of keeper of the printed books, which should have been his in the ordinary course of promotion, was refused to him when it fell vacant. In 1841 a crown pension of £200 a year, obtained through the efforts of Samuel Rogers, was conferred on him. Cary's Lives of the early French Poets, and Lives of English Poets (from Samuel Johnson to Henry Kirke White), intended as a continuation of Johnson's Lives of the Poets, were published in collected form in 1846. He died in Charlotte St, St George's, Bloomsbury, London in 1844 and was buried in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey.

A memoir was published by his son, Judge Henry Cary, in 1847.[2] Another son, Francis Stephen Cary became a well-known art teacher, succeeding Henry Sass as the head of his art academy in London.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  2. ^ a b Henry Cary, Memoir of the Rev. Henry Francis Cary M.A. (1847) Edward Moxon, Dover St, London.

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