Thomas Chatterton

Thomas Chatterton

Bristol, Bristol Unitary Authority, Bristol, England
Death 23 Aug 1770 (aged 17)
Holborn, London Borough of Camden, Greater London, England
Cenotaph Redcliffe, Bristol Unitary Authority, Bristol, England
Plot * Possible Cenotaph
Memorial ID 27965930 · View Source
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Poet. Famous for creating one of the 18th Century's most notorious literary hoaxes. He was the son of a church choirmaster who died three months before Thomas was born, and he grew up in poverty. At the age of eight he was sent to the school founded by Edward Colston, which was a charitable institution that took in poor boys. He began writing poetry and his love of literature continued after he left school at the age of 14, and started work at a local company copying legal documents. Through his family connections with St Mary Redcliffe, he had access to the church's coffers where legal documents were stored. He claimed to have discovered poems written by a 15th century priest named Thomas Rowley. The poems were hailed as a magnificent find and experts were unstinting in their praise of the work. When his forgery was discovered, he was discredited and shunned and moved to London, hoping to make a living as a poet. His fate did not change and he was short of money, on the point of starvation, but too proud to borrow or beg, he committed suicide. Others believe his death resulted from an accidental cocktail of arsenic and opium. His death attracted little notice at the time. His body was thrown into a mass grave in a burying-ground attached to Shoe Lane Workhouse, in the parish of St Andrew's, Holborn. Some believe that the body of the poet was recovered, and secretly buried by his uncle, Richard Phillips, in Redcliffe Churchyard.

Bio by: julia&keld



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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: julia&keld
  • Added: 1 Jul 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 27965930
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas Chatterton (20 Nov 1752–23 Aug 1770), Find A Grave Memorial no. 27965930, citing St Mary the Virgin Churchyard, Redcliffe, Bristol Unitary Authority, Bristol, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .