Matthew Arnold

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Matthew Arnold (24 December 1822 – 15 April 1888) was a British poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator. Matthew Arnold has been characterized as a sage writer, a type of writer who chastises and instructs the reader on contemporary social issues.[1]

Contents

Early years

The Reverend John Keble, who would become one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, stood as godfather to Matthew. "Thomas Arnold admired Keble's 'hymns' in The Christian Year, only reversing himself with exasperation when this old friend became a Romeward-tending 'High Church' reactionary in the 1830s."[2] In 1828, Arnold's father was appointed Headmaster of Rugby School and his young family took up residence, that year, in the Headmaster's house. In 1831, Arnold was tutored by his uncle, the Reverend John Buckland, at Laleham, Middlesex. In 1834, the Arnolds occupied a holiday home, Fox How, in the Lake District. William Wordsworth was a neighbor and close friend. Fox How then became the family home after Dr. Arnold's untimely death in 1842.

In 1836, Arnold was sent to Winchester College, but in 1837 he returned to Rugby School where he was enrolled in the fifth form. He moved to the sixth form in 1838 and thus came under the direct tutelage of his father. He wrote verse for the manuscript Fox How Magazine produced by Matthew and his brother Tom for the family's enjoyment from 1838 to 1843. During his years as a Rugby student, he won school prizes for English essay writing, and Latin and English poetry. His prize poem, "Alaric at Rome," was printed at Rugby.

In 1841, he won an open scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. During his residence at Oxford, his friendship ripened with Arthur Hugh Clough, another graduate of Rugby who had been one of his father's favourites. Arnold attended John Henry Newman's sermons at St. Mary's, but did not join the Oxford Movement. His father died suddenly of heart disease in 1842. Arnold's poem "Cromwell" won the 1843 Newdigate prize. He graduated in the following year with a 2nd Class Honours degree in "Greats."

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