Lascelles Abercrombie

Lascelles Abercrombie
Born (1881-01-09)9 January 1881[1]
Ashton upon Mersey, Sale, Cheshire, England, UK
Died 27 October 1938(1938-10-27) (aged 57)
London, England, UK
Occupation Journalist, lecturer
Alma mater Malvern College, Owens College

Lascelles Abercrombie (/ˈæbərˌkrɒmbi, -ˌkrʌm-/; also known as the Georgian Laureate, linking him with the "Georgian poets"; 9 January 1881 27 October 1938)[1] was a British poet and literary critic, one of the "Dymock poets".


He was born in Ashton upon Mersey, Sale, Cheshire[2] and educated at Malvern College,[3] and at Owens College.[1]

Before the First World War, he lived for a time at Dymock in Gloucestershire, part of a community that included Rupert Brooke and Robert Frost. Edward Thomas visited. During these early years, he worked as a journalist, and he started his poetry writing. His first book, Interludes and Poems (1908), was followed by Mary and the Bramble (1910) and the poem Deborah, and later by Emblems of Love (1912) and Speculative Dialogues (1913). His critical works include An Essay Towards a Theory of Art (1922), and Poetry, Its Music and Meaning (1932). Collected Poems (1930) was followed by The Sale of St. Thomas (1931), a poetic drama.[1]

During World War I, he served as a munitions examiner, after which, he was appointed to the first lectureship in poetry at the University of Liverpool.[1] In 1922 he was appointed Professor of English at the University of Leeds in preference to J. R. R. Tolkien, with whom he shared, as author of The Epic (1914), a professional interest in heroic poetry.[4] In 1929 he moved on to the University of London, and in 1935 to the prestigious Goldsmiths' Readership at Oxford University,[2] where he was elected as a Fellow of Merton College.[5] He wrote a series of works on the nature of poetry, including The Idea of Great Poetry (1925) and Romanticism (1926). He published several volumes of original verse, largely metaphysical poems in dramatic form, and a number of verse plays. Abercrombie also contributed to Georgian Poetry and several of his verse plays appeared in New Numbers (1914).[6] His poems and plays were collected in 'Poems' (1930).[2]

Lascelles Abercrombie died in London in 1938, aged 57, from undisclosed causes.[1]


He was the brother of the architect Patrick Abercrombie. In 1909 he married Catherine Gwatkin (1881–1968) of Grange-over-Sands. They had 4 children, a daughter and three sons. Two of the sons achieved prominence as a phonetician David Abercrombie and a cell biologist Michael Abercrombie.[7] A grandson, Jeffrey Cooper, produced an admirable bibliography of his grandfather, with brief but important notes, while a great-grandson is author Joe Abercrombie.[8][9]


A collection of literary and other manuscripts relating to Abercrombie is held by Special Collections in the Brotherton Library at the University of Leeds.[10] The collection contains drafts of many of Abercrombie's own publications and literary material; lecture notes, including those of his own lectures and some notes taken from the lectures of others, and a printed order of service for his Memorial Service in 1938.[11]

Special Collections in the Brotherton Library also holds correspondence relating to Lascelles Abercrombie and his family.[12] Comprising 105 letters, the collection contains letters of condolence to Catherine and Ralph Abercrombie on the death of Lascelles, as well as Abercrombie family letters from various correspondents, chiefly to Ralph Abercrombie.[12]


Title Year Description
Interluds and Poems 1908[1] Book of poems
Mary and the Bramble 1910[1] Book of poems
Deborah[1] Dramatic poem
Emblems of Love 1912[1] Book
Speculative Dialogues 1913[1] Work of prose
An Essay Towards a Theory of Art 1922[1]
Poetry, Its Music and Meaning 1932[1] Book
Collected Poems 1930[1] Book of poems
The Sale of St. Thomas 1931[1] Poetic drama


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abercrombie, Lascelles". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  2. 1 2 3 Chambers Biographical Dictionary, page 4; ISBN 0-550-18022-2; accessed 5 May 2014.
  3. Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature (1995) Merriam-Webster Inc. p. 3; ISBN 978-0-87779-042-6.
  4. Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, 1977, p. 114.
  5. Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 261.
  6. The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 6th Edition. Edited by Margaret Drabble, Oxford University Press, 2000 p.2
  7. Elton, Oliver (2004). "Abercrombie, Lascelles (1881–1938)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  8. Index entry for Lascelles Abercrombie at Poets' Corner; accessed 5 May 2014.
  9. Dymock Poets Archive,; accessed 5 May 2014.
  10. Special Collections Guide
  11. Leeds University Library Catalogue Record #1,; accessed 5 May 2014.
  12. 1 2 Leeds University Library Catalogue Record #2; accessed 5 May 2014.


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