Henry The Minstrel

(?1470-?1492)
   Henry the Minstrel, or Blind Harry or Hary, a Scottish poet, was the author of the epic poem in 12 books The Life of Sir William Wallace around 1460; it was translated into modern English by William of Gilbertfield in 1722. Little is known about Henry, but it is thought he came from the Lothian area and that he was blind from birth. The treasury accounts show that in 1490 he received a sum of money on the king's command and similar payments until 1492. William Dunbar (see entry) mentions him on line 69 of Lament for the Makaris (middle Scots for maker, composer, craftsman). From the level of the language it appears he had been educated in the school of some monastery. He collected tales about Wallace (who was hung, drawn and quartered in London in 1305) from various sources and wrote them in the Scots language, adding them to the work of John Blair, Wallace's chaplain. The poem inspired Burns to write "Scots Wha Hae," and Randall Wallace also read the poem before creating the Mel Gibson film Braveheart (1995). There are some historical inaccuracies; however, the poem makes stirring reading and had a strong influence on Scottish nationality.
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. Overview of Blind Harry (http://www.geo.ed.ac.uk/scotgaz/people/famousfirst1079.html). Scottish Poetry Selection-Life of Sir William Wallace, an extract of the poem by Blind Harry (http://www.rampantscotland.com/poetry/blpoems_wallace.htm). 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 Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000. The Scottish Collection of Verse to 1800. Eileen Dunlop and Kamm Antony, eds. Richard Drew, 1985.

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

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  • Henry the Minstrel — (Blind Harry) (ca. 1440–ca. 1492)    Henry the Minstrel was a 15th century Scottish poet who, sometime between 1460 and 1480, wrote the famous historical poem Wallace. An epic in 12 books and nearly 12,000 lines of rhymed couplets,Wallace relates …   Encyclopedia of medieval literature

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  • Blind Harry or Henry the Minstrel — (fl. 1470 1492)    Is spoken of by John Major in his History of Scotland as a wandering minstrel, skilled in the composition of rhymes in the Scottish tongue, who fabricated a book about William Wallace, and gained his living by reciting it to… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

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