Roden Noel

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Roden Noel, by George Richmond

Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel, also known as Noël (27 August 1834—26 May 1894), was an English poet.[1] He was a Cambridge Apostle.


The son of Charles Noel, 1st Earl of Gainsborough and Lady Frances Jocelyn, he was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained his M.A. in 1858.[2] He then spent two years travelling in the East. In 1863, he married Alice de Broë, daughter of the director of the Ottoman Bank in Beirut. Their third child, Eric, who died aged five, is commemorated in Roden Noel's best-known book of verse, A Little Child's Monument (1881).

The latter part of his life was spent at Brighton, but he died in the train station of Mainz in Germany. His son Conrad Noel became a Christian Socialist, famous as the "turbulent priest of Thaxted".

Roden Noel's versification was unequal and sometimes harsh, but he has a genuine feeling for nature, and the work is permeated by philosophic thought.

His other works include a drama in verse, The House of Ravensburg (1877), an epic on David Livingstone's expedition in Africa, a Life of Byron (1890, Great Writers series), an edition of Edmund Spenser's poems, a selection of Thomas Otway's plays (1888) for the Mermaid series, and critical papers on literature and philosophy.

His Collected Poems were edited (1902) by his sister, Victoria Buxton, with a notice by John Addington Symonds, which had originally appeared in the Academy (January 19, 1899) as a review of The Modern Faust. The selection (1892) in the series of Canterbury Poets has an introduction by Robert Buchanan.

His poem "Sea Slumber Song" was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar as the first song of his song-cycle Sea Pictures.

Noel was a spiritualist and interested in parapsychology. He was a founding vice-president of the Society for Psychical Research.[3]


  • Behind the Veil, and Other Poems (1863), not included in his collected works
  • Beatrice, and Other Poems (1868)
  • The Red Flag (1872)
  • Livingstone in Africa (1874)
  • A Little Child's Monument (1881)
  • Songs of the Heights and Deeps (1885)
  • A Modern Faust, and Other Poems (1888)
  • Poor People's Christmas (1890)
  • My Sea, and Other Poems (1896).


  1. ^  "Noel, Roden Berkeley Wriothesley (DNB00)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  2. ^ "Noel, the Hon. Roden Berkeley Wriothesley (NL854RB)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ W. C. Lubenow (2007). The Cambridge Apostles, 1820-1914: Liberalism, Imagination, and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life. Cambridge University Press. p. 229. ISBN 978-0521037280

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