Somerville, William

(1675-1742)
   Born on the family estate, Edstone, Warwickshire, he went from Winchester College to New College, Oxford, where he obtained a fellowship in 1696 before training in law at the Middle Temple. When his father died in 1705 he retired to Edstone to spend the rest of his life as a country gentleman. He had a good reputation; he enjoyed the respect of his neighbors and he cared for his animals. His poems abound with references to field sports, but he roundly condemned hare coursing. He died at Edstone heavily laden with property debt. His wife died childless in 1731, and they are both buried in the chantry chapel of the church of Wootton-Wawen, Warwickshire. While his fame rests more on The Chase, a blank verse poem in four books, of 540 lines; Field Sports runs a close second, illustrated as it was by his brother Bewick. Some of his other poems: "A Padlock for the Mouth," "Advice to the Ladies," "Field Sports," "Hobbinol; or The Rural Games," "The Bowling Green," "The Coquette," "The Happy Lunatic," "The Wise Builder," "The Yeoman of Kent."
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. EighteenthCentury English Verse. Dennis Davison, ed. Penguin Books, 1988. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite DVD, 2006. English Poetry: Author Search. ChadwyckHealey Ltd., 1995 (http://www.lib.utexas.edu:8080/search/epoetry/author.html). The National Portrait Gallery (www.npg.org.uk). The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). The Faber Book of Useful Verse. Simon Brett, ed. Faber and Faber, 1981. The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse. Roger Lonsdale, ed. Oxford University Press, 1984. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000. The Poetical Works of William Somervile. Thomas, Park, ed. J. Sharpe, 1808.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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