Friday, 27 May 2016

The Dunning–Kruger effect

   The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which relatively unskilled persons suffer illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their ability to be much higher than it really is. Dunning and Kruger attributed this bias to a meta-cognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their own ineptitude and evaluate their own ability accurately. Their research also suggests corollaries: highly skilled individuals may underestimate their relative competence and may erroneously assume that tasks which are easy for them are also easy for others.

   The bias was first experimentally observed by David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University in 1999. They postulated that the effect is the result of internal illusion in the unskilled, and external misperception in the skilled: "The miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."The phenomenon was first experimentally observed in a series of experiments by David Dunning and Justin Kruger of the department of psychology at Cornell University in 1999. The study was inspired by the case of McArthur Wheeler, a man who robbed two banks after covering his face with lemon juice in the mistaken belief that, because lemon juice is usable as invisible ink, it would prevent his face from being recorded on surveillance cameras. The authors noted that earlier studies suggested that ignorance of standards of performance lies behind a great deal of incorrect self-assessment of competence. This pattern of over-estimating competence was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, practicing medicine, operating a motor vehicle, and playing games such as chess or tennis. Dunning and Kruger proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:
-fail to recognize their own lack of skill
-fail to recognize the extent of their inadequacy
-fail to accurately gauge skill in others
-recognize and acknowledge their own lack of skill only after they are exposed to training for that skill

   Dunning has since drawn an analogy – "the anosognosia of everyday life" – with a condition in which a person who experiences a physical disability because of brain injury seems unaware of, or denies the existence of, the disability, even for dramatic impairments such as blindness or paralysis: "If you're incompetent, you can’t know you’re incompetent.… The skills you need to produce a right answer are exactly the skills you need to recognize what a right answer is." Dunning and Kruger set out to test these hypotheses on Cornell undergraduates in psychology courses. In a series of studies, they examined student self-assessment of logical reasoning skills, grammatical skills, and humor. After being shown their test scores, the students were asked to estimate their own rank in the class. The competent group estimated their rank accurately, while the incompetent group overestimated theirs. In other words, students who were about to get Ds and Fs thought they had turned in B-or-better work.
    As Dunning and Kruger noted: Across four studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Meanwhile, students of high ability tended to underestimate their relative competence. Roughly, participants who found tasks to be easy erroneously presumed that the tasks also must be easy for others; in other words, they assumed others were as competent, if not more competent, than themselves. A follow-up study, reported in the same paper, suggests that grossly incompetent students improved their ability to estimate their rank after minimal tutoring in the skills they had previously lacked, regardless of the improvement gained in skills. In 2003, Dunning and Joyce Ehrlinger, also of Cornell University, published a study that detailed a shift in people's views of themselves when influenced by external cues. Participants in the study, Cornell University undergraduates, were given tests of their knowledge of geography. Some of the tests were intended to affect their self-views positively, some negatively. They were then asked to rate their performance. Those given the positive tests reported significantly better performance than those given the negative. Daniel Ames and Lara Kammrath extended this work to sensitivity to others and subject perception of how sensitive they were. Research conducted by Burson et al. (2006) set out to test one of the core hypotheses put forth by Kruger and Muller in their paper "Unskilled, unaware, or both? The better-than-average heuristic and statistical regression predict errors in estimates of own performance": "that people at all performance levels are equally poor at estimating their relative performance". To test this hypothesis, the authors investigated three different studies, which all manipulated the "perceived difficulty of the tasks and hence participants’ beliefs about their relative standing". The authors found that when researchers presented subjects with moderately difficult tasks, the best and the worst performers varied little in their ability to accurately predict their performance. Additionally, they found that with more difficult tasks, the best performers were less accurate in predicting their performance than the worst performers. The authors concluded that these findings suggest that "judges at all skill levels are subject to similar degrees of error". Ehrlinger et al. (2008) made an attempt to test alternative explanations, but came to conclusions that were qualitatively similar to the original work. The paper concludes that the root cause is that, in contrast to high performers, "poor performers do not learn from feedback suggesting a need to improve". Studies on the Dunning–Kruger effect tend to focus on American test subjects. A number of studies on East Asian subjects suggest that different social forces are at play in different cultures. For example, East Asians tend to underestimate their abilities and see underachievement as a chance to improve themselves and to get along with others. 

   Although the Dunning–Kruger effect was formulated in 1999, Dunning and Kruger have noted earlier observations along similar lines by philosophers and scientists, including Confucius ("Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance"), Bertrand Russell ("One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"), and Charles Darwin, whom they quoted in their original paper ("Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"). Geraint Fuller, commenting on the paper, noted that Shakespeare expressed a similar observation in As You Like It ("The Foole doth thinke he is wise, but the wiseman knowes himselfe to be a Foole" )

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Super Humans - Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744) was an 18th-century English poet. He is best known for his satirical verse, as well as for his translation of Homer. Famous for his use of the heroic couplet, he is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare. Alexander Pope was born to Alexander Pope Senior (1646–1717), a linen merchant of Plough Court, Lombard Street, London, and his wife Edith (née Turner) (1643–1733), who were both Catholics. Edith's sister Christiana was the wife of the famous miniature painter Samuel Cooper. Pope's education was affected by the recently enacted Test Acts, which upheld the status of the established Church of England and banned Catholics from teaching, attending a university, voting, or holding public office on pain of perpetual imprisonment. Pope was taught to read by his aunt, and went to Twyford School in about 1698/99. He then went to two Catholic schools in London. Such schools, while illegal, were tolerated in some areas. In 1700, his family moved to a small estate at Popeswood in Binfield, Berkshire, close to the royal Windsor Forest. This was due to strong anti-Catholic sentiment and a statute preventing Catholics from living within 10 miles (16 km) of either London or Westminster. Pope would later describe the countryside around the house in his poem Windsor Forest. Pope's formal education ended at this time, and from then on he mostly educated himself by reading the works of classical writers such as the satirists Horace and Juvenal, the epic poets Homer and Virgil, as well as English authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare and John Dryden. He also studied many languages and read works by English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek poets. After five years of study, Pope came into contact with figures from the London literary society such as William Wycherley, William Congreve, Samuel Garth, William Trumbull, and William Walsh. At Binfield, he also began to make many important friends. One of them, John Caryll (the future dedicatee of The Rape of the Lock), was twenty years older than the poet and had made many acquaintances in the London literary world. He introduced the young Pope to the ageing playwright William Wycherley and to William Walsh, a minor poet, who helped Pope revise his first major work, The Pastorals. He also met the Blount sisters, Teresa and Martha, both of whom would remain lifelong friends. From the age of 12, he suffered numerous health problems, such as Pott's disease (a form of tuberculosis that affects the bone), which deformed his body and stunted his growth, leaving him with a severe hunchback. His tuberculosis infection caused other health problems including respiratory difficulties, high fevers, inflamed eyes, and abdominal pain. He grew to a height of only 1.37 m (4 ft 6 in). Pope was already removed from society because he was Catholic; his poor health only alienated him further. Although he never married, he had many female friends to whom he wrote witty letters. Allegedly, his lifelong friend Martha Blount was his lover. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Super Humans - Rimbaud

   Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud (/ræmˈboʊ/ or /ˈræmboʊ/; French pronunciation: [aʁtyʁ ʁɛ̃bo] ( listen) ; 20 October 1854 – 10 November 1891) was a French poet born in Charleville-Mézières. He influenced modern literature and arts, and prefigured surrealism. He started writing poems at a very young age, while still in primary school, and stopped completely before he turned 21. He was mostly creative in his teens (17–20). The critic Cecil Arthur Hackett wrote that his "genius, its flowering, explosion and sudden extinction, still astonishes". Rimbaud was known to have been a libertine and for being a restless soul. He traveled extensively on three continents before his death from cancer just after his thirty-seventh birthday.

   Arthur Rimbaud was born in the provincial town of Charleville (now part of Charleville-Mézières) in the Ardennes département in northeastern France. He was the second child of Frédéric Rimbaud (7 October 1814 – 16 November 1878) and Marie Catherine Vitalie Cuif (10 March 1825 – 16 November 1907). Rimbaud's father, a Burgundian of Provençal extraction, was an infantry captain risen from the ranks; he had spent much of his army career abroad. From 1844 to 1850, he participated in the conquest of Algeria, and in 1854 was awarded the Légion d'honneur "by Imperial decree". Captain Rimbaud was described as "good-tempered, easy-going and generous". In October 1852, Captain Rimbaud, then aged 38, was transferred to Mézières where he met Vitalie Cuif, 11 years his junior, while on a Sunday stroll. She came from a "solidly established Ardennais family", but one with its share of bohemians; two of her brothers were alcoholics. Her personality was the "exact opposite" of Captain Rimbaud's; she was narrow minded, "stingy and completely lacking in a sense of humour". When Charles Houin, an early biographer, interviewed her, he found her "withdrawn, stubborn and taciturn". Arthur Rimbaud's private name for her was "Mouth of Darkness" (bouche d'ombre). Nevertheless, on 8 February 1853, Captain Rimbaud and Vitalie Cuif married; their first-born, Jean Nicolas Frédéric ("Frédéric"), arrived nine months later on 2 November. The next year, on 20 October 1854, Jean Nicolas Arthur ("Arthur") was born. Three more children followed: Victorine-Pauline-Vitalie on 4 June 1857 (who died a few weeks later), Jeanne-Rosalie-Vitalie ("Vitalie") on 15 June 1858 and, finally, Frédérique Marie Isabelle ("Isabelle") on 1 June 1860. Though the marriage lasted seven years, Captain Rimbaud lived continuously in the matrimonial home for less than three months, from February to May 1853. The rest of the time his military postings—including active service in the Crimean War and the Sardinian Campaign (with medals earned in both)[18]—meant he returned home to Charleville only when on leave. He was not at home for his children's births, nor their baptisms. Isabelle's birth in 1860 must have been the last straw, as after this Captain Rimbaud stopped returning home on leave entirely. Though they never divorced, the separation was complete; thereafter Mme Rimbaud let herself be known as "Widow Rimbaud"  and Captain Rimbaud would describe himself as a widower. Neither the captain nor his children showed the slightest interest in re-establishing contact. Fearing her children were being over-influenced by the neighbouring children of the poor, Mme. Rimbaud moved her family to the Cours d'Orléans in 1862. This was a better neighbourhood, and the boys, now aged nine and eight, who had been taught at home by their mother, were now sent to the Pension Rossat. Throughout the five years that they attended the school, however, their formidable mother still imposed her will upon them, pushing them for scholastic success. She would punish her sons by making them learn a hundred lines of Latin verse by heart, and further punish any mistakes by depriving them of meals. When Rimbaud was nine, he wrote a 700-word essay objecting to his having to learn Latin in school. Vigorously condemning a classical education as a mere gateway to a salaried position, Rimbaud wrote repeatedly, "I will be a rentier". Rimbaud disliked schoolwork and resented his mother's constant supervision; the children were not allowed out of their mother's sight, and until they were fifteen and sixteen respectively, she would walk them home from school. As a boy, Rimbaud was small and pale with brown hair, and eyes that a childhood friend described as "pale blue irradiated with dark blue—the loveliest eyes I've seen". An ardent Catholic like his mother, Rimbaud had his First Communion when he was eleven. His piety earned him the schoolyard nickname "sale petit Cagot". That same year, he and his brother were sent to the Collège de Charleville. Up to then, his reading had been largely confined to the Bible, though he had also enjoyed fairy tales and adventure stories, such as the novels of James Fenimore Cooper and Gustave Aimard. At the Collège he became a highly successful student, heading his class in all subjects except mathematics and the sciences; his schoolmasters remarked upon his ability to absorb great quantities of material. In 1869 he won eight school first prizes, including the prize for Religious Education, and in 1870 he won seven first prizes. Hoping for a brilliant academic career for her second son, Mme Rimbaud hired a private tutor for Rimbaud when he reached the third grade. Father Ariste Lhéritier succeeded in sparking in the young scholar a love of Greek, Latin and French classical literature, and was the first to encourage the boy to write original verse, in both French and Latin. Rimbaud's first poem to appear in print was "Les Étrennes des orphelins" ("The Orphans' New Year's Gifts"), which was published in the 2 January 1870 issue of La Revue pour tous. Two weeks later, a new teacher of rhetoric, the 22-year-old Georges Izambard, started at the Collège de Charleville. Izambard became Rimbaud's literary mentor, and soon a close accord formed between teacher and student, with Rimbaud for a while seeing Izambard as a kind of older brother. At the age of 15, Rimbaud was showing maturity as a poet; the first poem he showed Izambard, "Ophélie", would later be included in anthologies, and is regarded as one of Rimbaud's three or four best poems. On 4 May 1870, Rimbaud's mother wrote to Izambard to complain that he had given Rimbaud Victor Hugo's Les Misérables to read. On 19 July 1870, the Franco-Prussian War broke out, between Napoleon III's Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. A week later, on 24 July, Izambard left Charleville for the summer to stay with his three aunts – the Misses Gindre – in Douai. In the meantime, preparations for war continued and the Collège de Charleville became a military hospital. By the end of August, with the countryside in turmoil, Rimbaud was bored and restless. In search of adventure he ran away by train to Paris without funds for his ticket. On arrival at the Gare du Nord, he was arrested and locked up in Mazas Prison to await trial for fare evasion and vagrancy. On about 6 September, Rimbaud wrote a desperate letter to Izambard, who arranged with the prison governor that Rimbaud be released into his care. As hostilities were continuing, he stayed with the Misses Gindre in Douai until he could be returned to Charleville. Izambard finally handed Rimbaud over to Mme Rimbaud on 27 September 1870, but he was at home for only ten days before running away again. From late October 1870, Rimbaud's behaviour became openly provocative; he drank alcohol, spoke rudely, composed scatological poems, stole books from local shops, and abandoned his characteristically neat appearance by allowing his hair to grow long. on 13 and 15 May 1871, he wrote letters (the lettres du voyant), to Izambard and to Demeny respectively, about his method for attaining poetical transcendence or visionary power through a "long, intimidating, immense and rational derangement of all the senses. The sufferings are enormous, but one must be strong, be born a poet, and I have recognized myself as a poet." Rimbaud wrote to several poets but received no replies, so his friend, office employee Charles Auguste Bretagne, advised him to write to Paul Verlaine, an eminent Symbolist poet. Rimbaud sent Verlaine two letters with several of his poems, including the hypnotic, finally shocking "Le Dormeur du Val" (The Sleeper in the Valley), in which Nature is called upon to comfort an apparently sleeping soldier. Verlaine was intrigued by Rimbaud, and replied, "Come, dear great soul. We await you; we desire you," sending him a one-way ticket to Paris. Rimbaud arrived in late September 1871 and resided briefly in Verlaine's home. Verlaine's wife, Mathilde Mauté, was seventeen years old and pregnant, and Verlaine had recently left his job and started drinking. In later published recollections of his first sight of Rimbaud at the age of seventeen, Verlaine described him as having "the real head of a child, chubby and fresh, on a big, bony, rather clumsy body of a still-growing adolescent", with a "very strong Ardennes accent that was almost a dialect". His voice had "highs and lows as if it were breaking." Rimbaud and Verlaine began a short and torrid affair. They led a wild, vagabond-like life spiced by absinthe and hashish. The Parisian literary coterie was scandalized by Rimbaud, whose behaviour was that of the archetypal enfant terrible, yet throughout this period he continued to write poems. Their stormy relationship eventually brought them to London in September 1872, a period over which Rimbaud would later express regret. During this time, Verlaine abandoned his wife and infant son (both of whom he had abused in his alcoholic rages). In England they lived in considerable poverty in Bloomsbury and in Camden Town, scraping a living mostly from teaching, as well as an allowance from Verlaine's mother. Rimbaud spent his days in the Reading Room of the British Museum where "heating, lighting, pens and ink were free". The relationship between the two poets grew increasingly bitter. In late June 1873, Verlaine returned to Paris alone, but quickly began to mourn Rimbaud's absence. On 8 July he telegraphed Rimbaud, asking him to come to the Hotel Liège in Brussels. The reunion went badly, they argued continuously, and Verlaine took refuge in heavy drinking. On the morning of 10 July, Verlaine bought a revolver and ammunition. About 16:00, "in a drunken rage", he fired two shots at Rimbaud, one of them wounding the 18-year-old in the left wrist. Rimbaud initially dismissed the wound as superficial but had it dressed at the St-Jean hospital nevertheless. He did not immediately file charges, but decided to leave Brussels. About 20:00, Verlaine and his mother accompanied Rimbaud to the Gare du Midi railway station. On the way, by Rimbaud's account, Verlaine "behaved as if he were insane". Fearing that Verlaine "might give himself over to new excesses", Rimbaud "ran off" and "begged a policeman to arrest him". Verlaine was charged with attempted murder, then subjected to a humiliating medico-legal examination. He was also interrogated about his correspondence with Rimbaud and the nature of their relationship. The bullet was eventually removed on 17 July and Rimbaud withdrew his complaint. The charges were reduced to wounding with a firearm, and on 8 August 1873 Verlaine was sentenced to two years in prison. Rimbaud returned home to Charleville and completed his prose work Une Saison en Enfer ("A Season in Hell")—still widely regarded as a pioneering example of modern Symbolist writing. In the work he referred to Verlaine as his "pitiful brother" (frère pitoyable) and the "mad virgin" (vierge folle), and to himself as the "hellish husband" (l'époux infernal). He described their life together as a "domestic farce" (drôle de ménage). In 1874 he returned to London with the poet Germain Nouveau. They lived together for three months while he put together his groundbreaking Illuminations. Rimbaud and Verlaine met for the last time in March 1875, in Stuttgart, after Verlaine's release from prison and his conversion to Catholicism. By then Rimbaud had given up writing in favour of a steady, working life. Some speculate he was fed up with his former wild living, or that the recklessness itself had been the source of his creativity. He continued to travel extensively in Europe, mostly on foot. In May 1876 he enlisted as a soldier in the Dutch Colonial Army to get free passage to Java in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Four months later he deserted and fled into the jungle. He managed to return incognito to France by ship; as a deserter he would have faced a Dutch firing squad had he been caught. In December 1878, Rimbaud journeyed to Larnaca, Cyprus, where he worked for a construction company as a stone quarry foreman. In May of the following year he had to leave Cyprus because of a fever, which on his return to France was diagnosed as typhoid. In 1880 Rimbaud finally settled in Aden, Yemen, as a main employee in the Bardey agency, going on to run the firm's agency in Harar, Ethiopia. In 1884 his "Report on the Ogaden" was presented and published by the Société de Géographie in Paris.[62] In the same year he left his job at Bardey's to become a merchant on his own account in Harar, where his commercial dealings included coffee and (generally outdated) firearms. His fulfilment of an order from the Negus of Shewa, enabled the latter to establish himself as Menelik II, Emperor of Ethiopia and counter the moves of the Italian army. Several years were necessary to drive the caravan. At the same time he also engaged in exploring. During this period he also struck up a close friendship with the Governor of Harar, Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael, father of future emperor Haile Selassie. He maintained friendly relationships with the official tutor of the young heir. Rimbaud worked in the coffee trade. "He was, in fact, a pioneer in the business, the first European to oversee the export of the celebrated coffee of Harar from the country where coffee was born. He was only the third European ever to set foot in the city, and the first to do business there". In February 1891, in Aden, Rimbaud developed what he initially thought was arthritis in his right knee. It failed to respond to treatment, and by March had become so painful that he prepared to return to France for treatment. Before leaving, Rimbaud consulted a British doctor who mistakenly diagnosed tubercular synovitis, and recommended immediate amputation. Rimbaud remained in Aden until 7 May to set his financial affairs in order, then caught a steamer, L'Amazone, back to France for the 13-day voyage. On arrival in Marseille, he was admitted to the Hôpital de la Conception where, a week later on 27 May, his right leg was amputated. The post-operative diagnosis was bone cancer, probably osteosarcoma. After a short stay at the family farm in Roche, from 23 July to 23 August, he attempted to travel back to Africa, but on the way his health deteriorated, and he was re-admitted to the Hôpital de la Conception in Marseille. He spent some time there in great pain, attended by his sister Isabelle. He received the Last rites from a priest before dying on 10 November 1891 at the age of 37. The remains were sent across France to his home town and he was buried in Charleville-Mézières. "On November 10, at two o’clock in the afternoon, he was dead", noted his sister Isabelle. The priest, shaken by so much reverence for God, administered the last rites. "I have never seen such strong faith", he said. Thanks to Isabelle, Rimbaud was brought to Charleville and buried in its cemetery with great pomp. There he lies still, next to his sister Vitalie, beneath a simple marble monument.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Super Humans - Christopher Marlowe

   Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe (baptized 26 February 1564 – 30 May 1593), was an English playwright, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe was the foremost Elizabethan tragedian of his day. He greatly influenced William Shakespeare, who was born in the same year as Marlowe and who rose to become the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright after Marlowe's mysterious early death. Marlowe's plays are known for the use of blank verse and their overreaching protagonists. A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May 1593. No reason was given for it, though it was thought to be connected to allegations of blasphemy, a manuscript believed to have been written by Marlowe was said to contain "vile heretical concepts". On 20 May he was brought to the court to attend upon the Privy Council for questioning. There is no record of their having met that day, however, and he was commanded to attend upon them each day thereafter until "licensed to the contrary." Ten days later, he was stabbed to death by Ingram Frizer. Whether the stabbing was connected to his arrest has never been resolved.

   Marlowe was born in Canterbury to shoemaker John Marlowe and his wife Catherine. His date of birth is not known, but he was baptized on 26 February 1564, and is likely to have been born a few days before. Thus he was just two months older than his contemporary William Shakespeare, who was baptized on 26 April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. Marlowe attended The King's School in Canterbury (where a house is now named after him) and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he studied on a scholarship and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1584. In 1587 the university hesitated to award him his Master of Arts degree because of a rumor that he intended to go to the English college at Rheims, presumably to prepare for ordination as a Roman Catholic priest. However, his degree was awarded on schedule when the Privy Council intervened on his behalf, commending him for his "faithful dealing" and "good service" to the Queen. The nature of Marlowe's service was not specified by the Council, but its letter to the Cambridge authorities has provoked much speculation, notably the theory that Marlowe was operating as a secret agent working for Sir Francis Walsingham's intelligence service. No direct evidence supports this theory, although the Council's letter is evidence that Marlowe had served the government in some secret capacity.

   Of the dramas attributed to Marlowe, Dido, Queen of Carthage is believed to have been his first. It was performed by the Children of the Chapel, a company of boy actors, between 1587 and 1593. The play was first published in 1594; the title page attributes the play to Marlowe and Thomas Nashe. Marlowe's first play performed on the regular stage in London, in 1587, was Tamburlaine the Great, about the conqueror Tamburlaine, who rises from shepherd to war-lord. It is among the first English plays in blank verse, and, with Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, generally is considered the beginning of the mature phase of the Elizabethan theatre. Tamburlaine was a success, and was followed with Tamburlaine the Great, Part II. The two parts of Tamburlaine were published in 1590; all Marlowe's other works were published posthumously. The sequence of the writing of his other four plays is unknown; all deal with controversial themes. The Jew of Malta (first published as The Famous Tragedy of the Rich Jew of Malta), about a Maltese Jew's barbarous revenge against the city authorities, has a prologue delivered by a character representing Machiavelli. It was probably written in 1589 or 1590, and was first performed in 1592. It was a success, and remained popular for the next fifty years. The play was entered in the Stationers' Register on 17 May 1594, but the earliest surviving printed edition is from 1633. Edward the Second is an English history play about the deposition of King Edward II by his barons and the Queen, who resent the undue influence the king's favourites have in court and state affairs. The play was entered into the Stationers' Register on 6 July 1593, five weeks after Marlowe's death. The full title of the earliest extant edition, of 1594, is The troublesome reigne and lamentable death of Edward the second, King of England, with the tragicall fall of proud Mortimer. The Massacre at Paris is a short and luridly written work, the only surviving text of which was probably a reconstruction from memory of the original performance text, portraying the events of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572, which English Protestants invoked as the blackest example of Catholic treachery. It features the silent "English Agent", whom subsequent tradition has identified with Marlowe himself and his connections to the secret service. The Massacre at Paris is considered his most dangerous play, as agitators in London seized on its theme to advocate the murders of refugees from the low countries and, indeed, it warns Elizabeth I of this possibility in its last scene. Its full title was The Massacre at Paris: With the Death of the Duke of Guise. Doctor Faustus (or The Tragicall History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus), based on the German Faustbuch, was the first dramatised version of the Faust legend of a scholar's dealing with the devil. While versions of "The Devil's Pact" can be traced back to the 4th century, Marlowe deviates significantly by having his hero unable to "burn his books" or repent to a merciful God in order to have his contract annulled at the end of the play. Marlowe's protagonist is instead carried off by demons, and in the 1616 quarto his mangled corpse is found by several scholars. Doctor Faustus is a textual problem for scholars as two versions of the play exist: the 1604 quarto, also known as the A text, and the 1616 quarto or B text. Both were published after Marlowe's death. Scholars have disagreed which text is more representative of Marlowe's original, and some editions are based on a combination of the two. The latest scholarly consensus (as of the late 20th century) holds the A text is more representative because it contains irregular character names and idiosyncratic spelling, which are believed to reflect a text based on the author's handwritten manuscript, or "foul papers." The B text, in comparison, was highly edited, censored because of shifting theatre laws regarding religious words onstage, and contains several additional scenes which scholars believe to be the additions of other playwrights, particularly Samuel Rowley and William Bird (alias Borne). Marlowe's plays were enormously successful, thanks in part, no doubt, to the imposing stage presence of Edward Alleyn. Alleyn was unusually tall for the time, and the haughty roles of Tamburlaine, Faustus, and Barabas were probably written especially for him. Marlowe's plays were the foundation of the repertoire of Alleyn's company, the Admiral's Men, throughout the 1590s. Marlowe also wrote the poem Hero and Leander (published in 1598, and with a continuation by George Chapman the same year), the popular lyric "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love", and translations of Ovid's Amores and the first book of Lucan's Pharsalia. In 1599, his translation of Ovid was banned and copies publicly burned as part of Archbishop Whitgift's crackdown on offensive material.

   As with other writers of the period, little is known about Marlowe. What evidence there is can be found in legal records and other official documents. This has not stopped writers of both fiction and non-fiction from speculating about his activities and character. Marlowe has often been described as a spy, a brawler, and a heretic, as well as a "magician", "duelist", "tobacco-user", "counterfeiter", and "rake-hell". J. A. Downie and Constance Kuriyama have argued against the more lurid speculation, but J. B. Steane remarked, "it seems absurd to dismiss all of these Elizabethan rumors and accusations as 'the Marlowe myth'". A theory has arisen centered on the notion that Marlowe may have faked his death and then continued to write under the assumed name of William Shakespeare. However, orthodox academic consensus rejects alternative candidates for authorship, including Marlowe.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Super Humans - H. P. Lovecraft

  H. P. Lovecraft recited poetry at the age of two years and wrote long poems at the age of five years. Howard Phillips Lovecraft (/ˈlʌvkræft, -ˌkrɑːft/;[1] August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American author who achieved posthumous fame through his influential works of horror fiction. Virtually unknown and only published in pulp magazines before he died in poverty, he is now regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century authors in his genre. Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island, where he spent most of his life. Among his most celebrated tales is "The Call of Cthulhu", canonical to the Cthulhu Mythos. Never able to support himself from earnings as author and editor, Lovecraft saw commercial success increasingly elude him in this latter period, partly because he lacked the confidence and drive to promote himself. He subsisted in progressively straitened circumstances in his last years; an inheritance was completely spent by the time he died at the age of 46. Lovecraft was frequently ill as a child. Because of his sickly condition, he barely attended school until he was eight years old, and then was withdrawn after a year. He read voraciously during this period and became especially enamored of chemistry and astronomy. He produced several hectographed publications with a limited circulation, beginning in 1899 with The Scientific Gazette. Four years later, he returned to public school at Hope High School. Beginning in his early life, Lovecraft is believed to have suffered from sleep paralysis, a form of parasomnia; he believed himself to be assaulted at night by horrific "night gaunts". Much of his later work is thought to have been directly inspired by these terrors. (Indeed, "Night Gaunts" became the subject of a poem he wrote of the same name, in which they were personified as devil-like creatures without faces.) His grandfather's death in 1904 greatly affected Lovecraft's life. Mismanagement of his grandfather's estate left his family in a poor financial situation, and they were forced to move into much smaller accommodations at 598 (now a duplex at 598–600) Angell Street. In 1908, prior to his high school graduation, he is said to have suffered what he later described as a "nervous breakdown", and consequently never received his high school diploma (although he maintained for most of his life that he did graduate). S. T. Joshi suggests in his biography of Lovecraft that a primary cause for this breakdown was his difficulty in higher mathematics, a subject he needed to master to become a professional astronomer. Eventually, he was forced to move to smaller and meaner lodgings with his surviving aunt. He was also deeply affected by the suicide of his correspondent Robert E. Howard. In early 1937, Lovecraft was diagnosed with cancer of the small intestine,[30] and suffered from malnutrition as a result. He lived in constant pain until his death on March 15, 1937, in Providence. In accordance with his lifelong scientific curiosity, he kept a diary of his illness until close to the moment of his death. Lovecraft was listed along with his parents on the Phillips family monument (41°51′14″N 71°22′52″W). That was not enough for his fans, who in 1977 raised the money to buy him a headstone of his own in Swan Point Cemetery, on which they had inscribed Lovecraft's name, the dates of his birth and death, and the phrase "I AM PROVIDENCE", a line from one of his personal letters. Groups of enthusiasts annually observe the anniversaries of Lovecraft's death at Ladd Observatory and of his birth at his grave site. In July 2013, the Providence City Council designated the intersection of Angell and Prospect streets near the author's former residences as "H. P. Lovecraft Memorial Square" and installed a commemorative sign. According to Joyce Carol Oates, Lovecraft – as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century – has exerted "an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction". Horror, fantasy, and science fiction author Stephen King called Lovecraft "the twentieth century's greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale." King has made it clear in his semi-autobiographical non-fiction book Danse Macabre that Lovecraft was responsible for King's own fascination with horror and the macabre, and was the single largest figure to influence his fiction writing. Early efforts to revise an established literary view of Lovecraft as an author of 'pulp' were resisted by some eminent critics; in 1945 Edmund Wilson expressed the opinion that "the only real horror in most of these fictions is the horror of bad taste and bad art". But "Mystery and Adventure" columnist Will Cuppy of the New York Herald Tribune recommended to readers a volume of Lovecraft's stories, asserting that "the literature of horror and macabre fantasy belongs with mystery in its broader sense." In 2005 the status of classic American writer conferred by a Library of America edition was accorded to Lovecraft with the publication of Tales, a collection of his weird fiction stories. Philosopher Graham Harman, seeing Lovecraft as having a unique—though implicit—anti-reductionalist ontology, says "No other writer is so perplexed by the gap between objects and the power of language to describe them, or between objects and the qualities they possess." Harman said of leading figures at the initial speculative realism conference (which included philosophers Quentin Meillassoux, Ray Brassier, and Iain Hamilton Grant) that, though they shared no philosophical heroes, all were enthusiastic readers of Lovecraft. According to scholar S. T. Joshi: "There is never an entity in Lovecraft that is not in some fashion material". Forbidden, dark, esoterically veiled knowledge is a central theme in many of Lovecraft's works. Many of his characters are driven by curiosity or scientific endeavor, and in many of his stories the knowledge they uncover proves Promethean in nature, either filling the seeker with regret for what they have learned, destroying them psychically, or completely destroying the person who holds the knowledge. 
Some critics argue that this theme is a reflection of Lovecraft's contempt of the world around him, causing him to search inwardly for knowledge and inspiration. In 1926, famed magician and escapist Harry Houdini asked Lovecraft to ghostwrite a treatise exploring the topic of superstition. Houdini's unexpected death later that year halted the project, but The Cancer of Superstition was partially completed by Lovecraft along with collaborator C. M. Eddy, Jr. A previously unknown manuscript of the work was discovered in 2016 in a collection owned by a magic shop. The book states “all superstitious beliefs are relics of a common ‘prehistoric ignorance’ in humans,” and goes on to explore various superstitious beliefs in different cultures and times. The closeness with dark magicians like Aleister Crowley resulted in a miserable unlucky life, despite the claims of so called magicians. 

Monday, 9 May 2016

Super Humans - Barbara Newhall Follett

Barbara Newhall Follett began working on a novel at 8 and was published by age 12. Barbara Newhall Follett (March 4, 1914[2] – disappeared December 7, 1939) was an American tween/teen prodigy novelist. Her first novel, The House Without Windows, was published in January, 1927, when she was twelve years old. Her next novel, The Voyage of the Norman D., received critical acclaim when she was fourteen. In December 1939, aged 25, she reportedly became depressed with her marriage and walked out of her apartment with just thirty dollars. She was never seen again. Follett was the daughter of critic and editor Wilson Follett. She was schooled at home and was writing poetry by age four.[4] With the help and guidance of her father, Follett was aged 12 when her first novel, The House Without Windows, was accepted and published in 1927 by the Knopf publishing house to critical acclaim by the New York Times, the Saturday Review, and H. L. Mencken.[3][4] Her next novel, The Voyage of the Norman D., was based on her experience on a coastal schooner in Nova Scotia. It was published a year later in 1928. Again it received critical acclaim in many literary publications. However, in the same year her father abandoned her mother for another woman. The event was a devastating blow to Follett who was deeply attached to her father. Despite being only 14, she had reached the apex of her life and career. “ My dreams are going through their death flurries. They are dying before the steel javelins and arrows of a world of Time and Money.” Subsequently her family fell upon hard times. By the age of 16, as the Great Depression was deepening, Follett was working as a secretary in New York. Follett wrote several more manuscripts, including the novel-length Lost Island and Travels Without a Donkey, a travelogue (the title plays on Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey). In 2012, Barbara's nephew Stefan Cooke transcribed and uploaded Lost Island in its entirety on his website, It is also available as a book published by CreateSpace.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Super Humans - Marjorie Fleming

   Marjorie Fleming, who died in 1811 before the age of nine, became a published poet half a century later. Marjorie Fleming (also spelt Marjory; 15 January 1803 – 19 December 1811) was a Scottish child writer and poet.Born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland on 15 January 1803, Marjorie was the third child of the Kirkcaldy accountant James Fleming (died c. 1840) and his wife Isabella (daughter of James Rae), also the name of her elder sister and of her cousin and friend Miss Crauford (variously spelled). Her uncle Thomas Fleming was minister of Kirkaldy parish church. Her mother's relations were acquainted in Edinburgh with the young Walter Scott. Marjorie spent most of her sixth, seventh and eighth years in Edinburgh under the tutelage of a cousin, Isabella Keith, who was about 17. Journal 1 begins with a somewhat startling, laconic tribute to Isabella Keith: "Many people are hanged for Highway robbery Housebreking Murder &c. &c. Isabella teaches me everything I know and I am much indebted to her she is learnen witty & sensible." Marjorie returned to Kirkcaldy in July 1811, but wrote on 1 September in a letter to Isabella Keith, "We are surrounded with measles at present on every side..." She herself contracted measles in November and apparently recovered, but then died, of what was described as "water on the head" and is now considered to have been meningitis, on 19 December 1811. She was a month short of her ninth birthday. The monument marking her grave, south of the old parish church in Kirkcaldy, was not erected until 1930. It was designed by Pilkington Jackson. 

   Marjorie is best remembered for a diary that she kept for the last 18 months of her life. Diary keeping by children was encouraged throughout the 19th century. (A published example from a generation later is that of Emily Pepys.) The manuscripts of her writings are now kept in the National Library of Scotland. However, for fifty years after her death they remained unpublished. The first account of her, with long extracts from the journals, was given by a London journalist, H. B. Farnie, in the Fife Herald, and then reprinted as a booklet entitled Pet Marjorie: a Story of Child Life Fifty Years Ago. The rumour that Marjorie's poems were admired by Walter Scott derives from an 1863 article in the North British Review by Dr John Brown MD of Edinburgh. He acknowledged a debt to Marjorie's younger sister Elizabeth Fleming (1809–1881) for the loan of the letters and journals. He included twice as much as Farnie from the latter, as well as 100 lines of her verse. The direct, albeit sole evidence of Scott's interest appears in a long letter from Elizabeth to Brown. The life and writings of Marjorie Fleming became hugely popular in the Victorian period, although the editions published were severely truncated and re-worked, as some of her language was thought inappropriate for an eight-year-old to use. Even Lachlan Macbean's editions of 1904 and 1928 relied on earlier bowdlerized texts. The Sidgwick edition of 1934, which followed a facsimile edition of the same year, quotes two other famous literary admirers. On the dust jacket, Robert Louis Stevenson is quoted as saying, "Marjory Fleming was possibly – no, I take back possibly – she was one of the noblest works of God." Leslie Stephen, in the entry he gave her in The Dictionary of National Biography in 1898, claimed that "no more fascinating infantile author has ever appeared." Mark Twain's account of her is something of a reaction to the "queasy sensations" caused by Brown's sentimentality: "She was made out of thunder-storms and sunshine, and not even her little perfunctory pieties and shop-made holinesses could squelch her spirits or put out her fires for long... and this tainted butter soon gets to be as delicious to the reader as are the stunning and worldly sincerities around it every time her pen takes a fresh breath."

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Super Humans - Lucretia Maria Davidson

Lucretia Maria Davidson, by the age of 11 years, had written some poems of note; before her death at the age of 16 years, she received praise as a writer. She was born in Plattsburgh, New York, on September 27, 1808. Her father, Oliver Davidson, was a physician, and her mother, Margaret Miller, was an author. She was sent at the age of four to Plattsburg Academy, where she learned to read, and wrote Roman letters in the sand. Soon afterward her mother observed that her writing paper was disappearing strangely, and finally discovered a pile of little blank-books, containing artfully sketched pictures, with descriptions in poetry, all printed in Roman letters, turned and twisted in curious fashion. The child was so mortified at the discovery of what she had been doing that she burned all her work. Lucretia learned to write in her seventh year, and developed a great fondness for reading. Before she was twelve she had read much history, and the dramatic works of William Shakespeare, Oliver Goldsmith, and August von Kotzebue, with many popular novels and romances. Davidson was an extremely precocious child, and she wrote the earliest remaining specimen of her verse, “Epitaph on a Robin,” at the age of nine. She wrote poetry rapidly, when in the mood, but preferred to be alone while composing, often burning an unfinished piece that had been seen by others. She was fond of childish sports, but would often stop in the midst of them to write, when struck with an idea for a poem. When about fourteen years old she was allowed to attend a ball in Plattsburg, but, in the midst of her preparations, was found sitting in a corner writing verses on “What the World Calls Pleasure.” Her mother's friends advised that pen and ink be kept from her, and, hearing of this, she voluntarily gave up her favorite pursuit for several months, until her mother, seeing that she grew melancholy, advised her to resume it. In October 1824, a gentleman visiting Plattsburg saw some of her verses, and offered to give her a better education than her parents could afford. She was accordingly sent to Mrs. Willard's school in Troy, N. Y., but her studies undermined her health, and she returned home. After her recovery she was sent to Miss Gilbert's school in Albany, but remained there only about three months before she was taken home to die. Davidson died at Plattsburgh on August 27, 1825, at the age of 16 years and 11 months of tuberculosis, then known as consumption, although it has been speculated that her condition may have been linked to anorexia nervosa. Davidson wrote prolifically in her short life, and her surviving poems, of various lengths, number 278, among these being five pieces of several cantos each. Davidson was praised, with varying levels of enthusiasm, by such notable figures as Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Southey, Marceline Desbordes-Valmore and Catharine Maria Sedgwick. Sedgwick wrote a biographical sketch which was included with Davidson's Poetical Remains, and Desbordes-Valmore wrote an ode to her. Southey's influential, romanticizing 1829 study of her, which compared Davidson to Thomas Chatterton and Henry Kirke White, greatly enhanced her reputation. Southey also remarked upon her personal beauty: "In person she was exceedingly beautiful. Her forehead was high, open, and fair as infancy; her eyes large, dark, and of that soft beaming expression which shews the soul in the glance." Poe was critical of Southey's role in the creation of the romantic 'myth' of Davidson, noting the distinction in quality between her 'poetic soul' and the actual quality of her output.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Super Humans - Thomas Chatterton

   Thomas Chatterton started as a poet at the age of 11 years. He began writing the poems that would make him famous at the age of 12 years. Thomas Chatterton (20 November 1752 – 24 August 1770) was an English poet and forger of pseudo-medieval verse. Although fatherless and raised in poverty, he was an exceptionally studious child, publishing mature work by the age of eleven. He was able to pass-off as an imaginary 15th-century poet called Thomas Rowley, chiefly because few people at the time were familiar with medieval poetry, though he was denounced by Horace Walpole. At seventeen, he sought outlets for his political writings in London, having impressed the Lord Mayor, William Beckford, and the radical leader John Wilkes, but his earnings were not enough to keep him, and he poisoned himself in despair. His unusual life and death attracted much interest among the romantic poets, and Alfred de Vigny wrote a play about him that is still performed today. The oil-painting The Death of Chatterton by Pre-Raphaelite artist Henry Wallis has enjoyed lasting fame. Chatterton was born in Bristol where the office of sexton of St Mary Redcliffe had long been held by the Chatterton family. The poet's father, also named Thomas Chatterton, was a musician, a poet, a numismatist, and a dabbler in the occult. He had been a sub-chanter at Bristol Cathedral and master of the Pyle Street free school, near Redcliffe church. After Chatterton's birth (15 weeks after his father's death on 7 August 1752), his mother established a girls' school and took in sewing and ornamental needlework. Chatterton was admitted to Edward Colston's Charity, a Bristol charity school, in which the curriculum was limited to reading, writing, arithmetic and the catechism. Chatterton, however, was always fascinated with his uncle the sexton and the church of St Mary Redcliffe. The knights, ecclesiastics and civic dignitaries on its altar tombs became familiar to him. Then he found a fresh interest in oaken chests in the muniment room over the porch on the north side of the nave, where parchment deeds, old as the Wars of the Roses, lay forgotten. Chatterton learned his first letters from the illuminated capitals of an old musical folio, and he learned to read out of a black-letter Bible. He did not like, his sister said, reading out of small books. Wayward from his earliest years, and uninterested in the games of other children, he was thought to be educationally backward. His sister related that on being asked what device he would like painted on a bowl that was to be his, he replied, "Paint me an angel, with wings, and a trumpet, to trumpet my name over the world." From his earliest years he was liable to fits of abstraction, sitting for hours in what seemed like a trance, or crying for no reason. His lonely circumstances helped foster his natural reserve, and to create the love of mystery which exercised such an influence on the development of his poetry. When Chatterton was six, his mother began to recognise his capacity; at eight he was so eager for books that he would read and write all day long if undisturbed; by the age of eleven, he had become a contributor to Felix Farley's Bristol Journal. His confirmation inspired him to write some religious poems published in that paper. In 1763 a cross which had adorned the churchyard of St Mary Redcliffe for upwards of three centuries was destroyed by a churchwarden. The spirit of veneration was strong in Chatterton, and he sent to the local journal on 7 January 1764 a satire on the parish vandal. He also liked to lock himself in a little attic which he had appropriated as his study; and there, with books, cherished parchments, loot purloined from the muniment room of St Mary Redcliffe, and drawing materials, the child lived in thought with his 15th century heroes and heroines. The first of his literary mysteries, the dialogue of "Elinoure and Juga," was written before he was 12, and he showed it to Thomas Phillips, the usher at the boarding school Colston's Hospital where he was a pupil, pretending it was the work of a 15th-century poet. Chatterton remained a boarder at Colston's Hospital for more than six years, and it was only his uncle who encouraged the pupils to write. Three of Chatterton's companions are named as youths whom Phillips's taste for poetry stimulated to rivalry; but Chatterton told no one about his own more daring literary adventures. His little pocket-money was spent on borrowing books from a circulating library; and he ingratiated himself with book collectors, in order to obtain access to John Weever, William Dugdale and Arthur Collins, as well as to Thomas Speght's edition of Chaucer, Spenser and other books. At some point he came across Elizabeth Cooper's anthology of verse, which is said to have been a major source for his inventions. Chatterton's "Rowleian" jargon appears to have been chiefly the result of the study of John Kersey's Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum, and it seems his knowledge even of Chaucer was very slight. His holidays were mostly spent at his mother's house, and much of them in the favourite retreat of his attic study there. He lived for the most part in an ideal world of his own, in the reign of Edward IV, during the mid-15th century, when the great Bristol merchant William II Canynges (d.1474), five times mayor of Bristol, patron and rebuilder of St Mary Redcliffe "still ruled in Bristol's civic chair." Canynges was familiar to him from his recumbent effigy in Redcliffe church, and is represented by Chatterton as an enlightened patron of art and literature.
   Chatterton soon conceived the romance of Thomas Rowley, an imaginary monk of the 15th century, and adopted for himself the pseudonym Thomas Rowley for poetry and history. According to psychoanalyst Louise J. Kaplan, his being fatherless played a great role in his imposturous creation of Rowley. The development of his masculine identity was held back by the fact that he was raised by two women: his mother Sarah and his sister Mary. Therefore,"to reconstitute the lost father in fantasy," he unconsciously created "two interweaving family romances [fantasies], each with its own scenario." The first of these was the romance of Rowley for whom he created a fatherlike, wealthy patron, William Canynge, while the second was as Kaplan named it his romance of "Jack and the Beanstalk." He imagined he would become a famous poet who by his talents would be able to rescue his mother from poverty.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Super Humans - William Cullen Bryant

William Cullen Bryant (November 3, 1794 – June 12, 1878) was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post. Bryant was born on November 3, 1794, in a log cabin near Cummington, Massachusetts; the home of his birth is today marked with a plaque. He was the second son of Peter Bryant (b. Aug. 12, 1767, d. Mar. 20, 1820), a doctor and later a state legislator, and Sarah Snell (b. Dec. 4, 1768, d. May 6, 1847). The genealogies of both of his parents trace back to passengers on the Mayflower; his mother's to John Alden (b. 1599, d. 1687); his father's to Francis Cooke (b. 1577, d. 1663). He was also a nephew of Charity Bryant, a Vermont seamstress who is the subject of Rachel Hope Cleves' 2014 book Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America. Bryant and his family moved to a new home when he was two years old. The William Cullen Bryant Homestead, his boyhood home, is now a museum. After just one year at Williams College (he entered with sophomore standing), he hoped to transfer to Yale, but a talk with his father led to the realization that family finances would not support it. His father counseled a legal career as his best available choice, and the disappointed poet began to study law in Worthington and Bridgewater in Massachusetts. He was admitted to the bar in 1815 and began practicing law in nearby Plainfield, walking the seven miles from Cummington every day. On one of these walks, in December 1815, he noticed a single bird flying on the horizon; the sight moved him enough to write "To a Waterfowl". Bryant developed an interest in poetry early in life. Under his father's tutelage, he emulated Alexander Pope and other Neo-Classic British poets. "The Embargo", a savage attack on President Thomas Jefferson published in 1808, reflected Dr. Bryant's Federalist political views. The first edition quickly sold out — partly because of publicity attached to the poet's young age. A second, expanded edition included Bryant's translation of classical verse. During his collegiate studies and his reading for the law, he wrote little poetry, but encounters with the Graveyard Poets and then Wordsworth regenerated his passion for "the witchery of song." In his last decade, Bryant shifted from writing his own poetry to a blank verse translation of Homer's works. He assiduously worked on the Iliad and The Odyssey from 1871 to 1874. He is also remembered as one of the principal authorities on homeopathy and as a hymnist for the Unitarian Church — both legacies of his father's enormous influence on him.