Poet. Born in in Cornhill, London, the only surviving child of twelve born to Dorothy Antrobus and Philip Gray. The marriage was unstable and unhappy and his mother removed him to Eton College, where her brother was assistant master in 1725. There he made lifelong friendships with men such as Thomas Ashton, Richard West, and Horace Walpole. In 1734 he entered Peterhouse College, Cambridge but left without a degree four years later. After a tour of the continent, he settled in Cambridge where his correspondence with Walpole and West and a few poems were published as 'Gratulatio' in 1736. He also wrote the verses 'Luna Habitabilis' published in the 'Musae Etonenses.' In 1742 he began writing poetry, including 'Ode on the Spring,' 'Hymn to Adversity,' 'Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College,' and 'Sonnet on the Death of Mr. Richard West,' which marked the loss of one of his close friends. The poems would be published over the next few years. He apparently began work on 'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,' his most remembered work, in 1745. About 1750 he sent a copy to Walpole whose admiration of the verse led to its dissemination among his acquaintances. By 1751, a magazine wrote to inform him they would be publishing his work. Apparently incensed, he arrange his own publication of his 'Elegy' in February 1751. The reception was overwhelmingly positive and he was instantly famous. In 1753, the first authorized edition of his collected poems was published, followed by 'Odes by Mr. Gray' (1757), which critics damned as obscure. In December 1757, he was offered the position of Poet Laureate, he declined. His original output all but ceased after this time, and he published translations from the Norse in 'Norse Odes' in 1761 and from the Welsh in 'The Triumphs of Owen' in 1764. In 1769 he wrote a travel journal during a tour of the Lake District which would be published posthumously. His poetic offerings published over the course of his life came to fewer than 1,000 lines, yet his influence and fame outstripped the meager output. After his death, his executor published a collection of his poems and correspondence in 'Life of Gray ' (1778). Scholars have described his letters as among the finest written even in an age of letter writing. His complete writings were compiled by John Mitford in 'The Works of Thomas Gray' published in 1816.
Bio by: Iola
Dorothy Antrobus Gray