William Mason (poet)

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William Mason
William Mason
William Mason by William Doughty, oil on canvas, 1778.
Born 12 February 1724 (1724-02-12)
Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
Died 7 April 1797 (1797-04-08) (aged 73)
Aston, East Riding of Yorkshire
Occupation English poet, editor and gardener
The death of Alexander Pope from Museus, a threnody by Mason, published in 1747

William Mason (12 February 1724 – 7 April 1797) was an English poet, editor and gardener.


He was born in Hull and educated at Hull Grammar School and St John's College, Cambridge.[1] He was ordained in 1754 and held a number of posts in the church.

In 1747 his poem "Musaeus, a Monody on the Death of Mr. Pope" was published to acclaim and quickly went through several editions.[2] Summarizing this poem, a threnody, William Lyon Phelps writes:

Musaeus was a monody on the death of Pope, and written in imitation of Milton's Lycidas. Different poets in Musaeus bewail Pope's death; Chaucer speaks in an imitation of old English, and Spenser speaks two stanzas after the metre of the Shepherd's Calendar and three stanzas in the style of the Fairy Queen. There is nothing remarkable about these imitations....[3]

Among his other works are the historical tragedies Elfrida (1752) and Caractacus (1759) (both used in translation as libretti for 18th century operas: Elfrida - Paisiello and LeMoyne, Caractacus - Sacchini (as Arvire et Évélina) and a long poem on gardening, The English Garden (three volumes, 1772–82). His garden designs included one for the Viscount Harcourt. He published the Poems of Mr Gray, a friend who was a great influence on his own work, in 1775. In 1785 he was William Pitt the Younger's choice to succeed William Whitehead as Poet Laureate but refused the honour.

In 1797 Mason hurt his shin on a Friday while stepping out of his carriage. He was able to officiate in his church at Aston on the Sunday, but died from the injury on the following Wednesday, 7 April.

Memorial inscriptions for Mason may be found at church at Aston near Rotherham and at Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey. A cenotaph was also erected by Countess Harcourt in the gardens at Nuneham Courtenay.[3][4]

Gallery : The English Garden[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "William Mason (M742W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  2. ^ Singer, S. W. (1822). The Life of William Mason, M.A. The British Poets including Translations. In One Hundred Volumes. LXXVII. Chiswick: C. Whittingham, College House. 5. 
  3. ^ a b Phelps, William Lyon (1904). The Beginnings of the English Romantic Movement. Boston: Ginn and Co. p. 69. 
  4. ^ [1]


External links[edit]