Alice Meynell

Poet of Poets, 1847 - 1922

 
from a portrait by J. S. Sargent

  Alice Meynell's literary gifts charmed and inspired the greatest minds of her generation. Her protege Francis Thompson wrote admiringly: "It is something to have won the admiration of men like Rossetti, Ruskin, Rossetti's bosom friend Theodore Watts, and, shall I add, the immortal Oscar Wilde." Coventry Patmore wrote that her poetry contained "that rarest of graces -- unsuperfluousness"; Ruskin called her work "perfectly heavenly"; she counted Aubrey de Vere and Lionel Johnson amongst her friends and Chesterton and de la Mare amongst her admirers.

She was for most of her adult life a journalist and essayist of prolific output and critical acclaim. Many of her essays, terse of phraseology and limpid of thought, still hold fascination for a modern audience. Her best known essay remains "The Rhythm of Life."

Her poetry spanned two centuries and has undeservedly fallen away from critical attention. Disciplined in expression, rare in execution, her poems received perhaps their best compliment from her dearest critic, her husband, who said simply, "they are incomparable."