Aubrey Thomas deVere

aubrey thomas devere

Aubrey Thomas de Vere (10 January 1814 – 20 January 1902) was an Irish poet and critic.


Aubrey Thomas Hunt de Vere was born at Curraghchase House (now in ruins) at Curraghchase Forest Park, Kilcornan, County Limerick, the third son of Sir Aubrey de Vere, 2nd Baronet (1788–1846) and his wife Mary Spring Rice, daughter of Stephen Edward Rice (d.1831) and Catherine Spring, of Mount Trenchard, Co. Limerick. He was a nephew of Lord Monteagle and a younger brother of Sir Stephen de Vere, 4th Baronet. In 1832, his father dropped the original surname 'Hunt' by royal licence, assuming the surname 'de Vere'.

He was strongly influenced by his friendship with the astronomer, Sir William Rowan Hamilton, through whom he came to a knowledge and reverent admiration for Wordsworth and Coleridge. He was educated privately at home and in 1832 entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he read Kant and Coleridge. Later he visited Oxford, Cambridge, and Rome, and came under the potent influence of John Henry Newman. He was also a close friend of Henry Taylor.

The characteristics of Aubrey de Vere's poetry are high seriousness and a fine religious enthusiasm. His research in questions of faith led him to the Roman Catholic Church in 1857; and in many of his poems, notably in the volume of sonnets called St Peters Chains (1888), he made rich additions to devotional verse. For a few years he held a professorship, under Newman, in the Catholic University in Dublin.

He also visited the Lake Country of England, and stayed under Wordsworth's roof, which he called the greatest honour of his life. His veneration for Wordsworth was singularly shown in later life, when he never omitted a yearly pilgrimage to the grave of that poet until advanced age made the journey impossible.

Sir Aubrey was himself a poet. Wordsworth called his sonnets the most perfect of the age. These and his drama, Mary Tudor, were published by his son in 1875 and 1884. In his twenty-eighth year published The Waldenses, which he followed up in the next year by The Search after Proserpine, which showed his love for Greece and Greek tradition.  Thenceforward he was continually engaged, till his death in 1902, in the production of poetry and criticism, being described as 'a man of literary fashion'.

He was of tall and slender physique, thoughtful and grave in character, of exceeding dignity and grace of manner, and retained his vigorous mental powers to a great age. According to Helen Grace Smith, he was one of the most profoundly intellectual poets of his time.

He died at Curraghchase in 1902, at the age of eighty-eight. As he never married, the name of de Vere at his death became extinct for the second time, and was assumed by his nephew.


His best-known works are: in verse, The Sisters (1861); The Infant Bridal (1864); Irish Odes (1869); Legends of St Patrick (1872); and Legends of the Saxon Saints (1879); and in prose, Essays Chiefly on Poetry (1887); and Essays Chiefly Literary and Ethical (1889). He also wrote a picturesque volume of travel-sketches, and two dramas in verse, Alexander the Great (1874); and St Thomas of Canterbury (1876). According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh Edition, both of these dramas, "though they contain fine passages, suffer from diffuseness and a lack of dramatic spirit." His best remembered poem is Inisfail.