John Banister Tabb (March 22, 1845 - November 19, 1909) was an American poet, Catholic priest, and professor of English. (Though often misspelled Bannister, the poet's middle name is actually spelled with only one "n", Banister.)
Born into one of Virginia's oldest and wealthiest families, he became a blockade runner for the Confederacy during the Civil War, and spent eight months in a Union prison camp (where he formed a life-long friendship with poet Sidney Lanier); he converted to the Catholic Church in 1872, and began to teach Greek and English at Saint Charles College (Ellicott City, Maryland) in 1878; he was ordained a priest in 1884, after which he retained his academic position. Plagued by eye problems his whole life, he lost his sight completely about a year before he died in the college rooms that he had continued to occupy after his retirement.
Father Tabb (as he was commonly known) was widely published in popular and prestigious magazines of the day, including Harper's Monthly, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Cosmopolitan. His books of poetry include Poems (1894), Lyrics (1897), Later Lyrics (1902), and, posthumously, Later Poems (1910). He also wrote one prose work, Bone Rules (1897), an English grammar; only one of his sermons has survived, a sermon on the Assumption (August 15, 1894).
English poet Alice Meynell made A Selection from the Verses of John B. Tabb (1906). His biographer Francis A. Litz, a former student of Tabb's, published previously uncollected poems and previously unpublished poems in Father Tabb: A Study of His Life and Works (1923); Litz also edited a collected edition, The Poetry of Father Tabb (1928).
Litz, Francis A. Father Tabb: A Study of His Life and Works. (Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1923).
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- Poems (1894) @ Internet Archive (Page Images)
- Lyrics (1897) @ Internet Archive (Page Images)
- Child Verse (1899) @ Internet Archive (Page Images)
- Later Lyrics (1902) @ Internet Archive (Page Images)
- The Rosary in Rhyme (1904) @ Internet Archive (Page Images)
- Quips and Quiddits (1907) @ Internet Archive (Page Images)
- A Selection from the Verses of John B. Tabb (1906/1910) @ Internet Archive (Page Images)
- Later Poems (1910) @ Internet Archive (Page Images)
- John Bannister Tabb: The Priest-Poet by M.S. Pine (Sr. Mary Paulina Finn) @ Google Books
- Father Tabb: His Life and Work by Jennie Masters Tabb (his niece) @ Google Books
- Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "John Bannister Tabb". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
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