|John Clare is buried in St. Botolph's churchyard,
Helpston, Cambridgeshire, England. (See map...ref
In 1820, at the age of
26, Clare's first collection of poetry Poems Descriptive of Rural
Life and Scenery was published by John Taylor a London bookseller.
It was an immediate success and Clare became known as the 'peasant poet'. However, his subsequent
collections The Village Minstrel (1821), The Shepherd's
Calendar (1827) and The Rural Muse (1835) sold badly and Clare spent the rest of his life in literary obscurity.
In 1837 Clare was admitted to an asylum in Epping, Essex. However, in 1841 he
escaped and walked all the way back to Northborough in the hope that he
would be reunited with his childhood sweetheart Mary Joyce. Shortly
after he was transferred to Northampton General
Lunatic Asylum - an institution where he was to spend the last 23 years of
his life. Clare continued to write poetry until the end of his life.
While in Northampton Asylum he wrote the famous, desolate affirmation I Am.
all the great poets, Clare was perhaps the least well educated and never mastered
the art of punctuation. Nevertheless, he managed to write some of the finest
nature poems in the English language.
died on 20th May 1864 in Northampton Asylum but in accordance with his wishes he was buried
at Helpston - the village where he had been born.
Edmund Blunden and C. Day-Lewis were
both admirers of Clare and did much to raise the profile of his work
during the 20th century.
In 1989 Clare was
honoured with a plaque in 'Poets' Corner', Westminster Abbey. There is also a memorial to him
in the village of Helpston.