Author. Walter Savage Landor was born in Warwick, the son of a wealthy doctor. He was educated at Rugby School, from which he was expelled, possibly for writing an indecent poem, and at Trinity College, Oxford, from which he was, again, expelled, this time for firing a gun into the room of a Tory undergraduate. After a quarrel with his father, he moved to Wales, with "one servant and a chest of books." His first volume of poems appeared the following year (1775). His father died in 1805, and Landor used part of his inheritance to raise a private army to go to Spain and fight Napoleon. As neither the British nor the Spanish Governments were interested, he returned to England and sold his estate in Warwickshire, using the proceeds to buy Llanthony Priory in Monmouthshire. Here he hoped to found a school, farm merino sheep, and plant ten thousand Cedars of Lebanon. This was not welcomed by his tenants, his neighbours, or the local authority. In 1811, he married a penniless Swiss girl of twenty, whom he had met at a ball. The marriage was not a success. Four years later, he was threatened with legal proceedings and had to leave Great Britain. He spent the next twenty years wandering through France and Italy. During this period, he published the five volumes of "Imaginary Conversations", for which he is best remembered. In 1835, he left his wife and returned to leave at Widcombe, near Bath in Somerset. It was here that he wanted to be buried : "Widcombe ! Few seek in thee their resting place, Yet I, when I have run my weary race, Will throw my bones upon thy churchyard turf." However, at the age of eighty-three, he had to leave the country yet again, to escape an action for libel. His children wanted nothing to do with him, so he escaped to Florence, where he was assisted by Robert Browning. (Landor's daughter told Browning, "If my father lay dying in that ditch, I would not lift a finger to save him.") He spent his last years on the Via Della Chiesa, and is buried in the English Cemetery, near to Elizabeth Barrett Browning. He was the grandfather of the explorer, Arnold Henry Savage Landor (1865-1924), and the godfather to Charles Dickens's second son, Walter Savage Landor Dickens (q.v.).
Bio by: Iain MacFarlaine