Matthew Arnold (24 December 1822 – 15 April 1888) was an English
poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was
the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and
brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield
Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator.
Matthew Arnold has been
characterised as a sage writer, a type of writer who chastises and
instructs the reader on contemporary social issues.
1 Early years
2 Marriage and a career
3 Literary career
5 Arnold's character
7.1 Literary criticism
7.2 Social criticism
7.3 Journalistic criticism
7.4 Religious criticism
9 See also
12 External links
The Reverend John Keble, who would become one of the leaders of the
Oxford Movement, stood as godfather to Matthew. "
Thomas Arnold admired
Keble's 'hymns' in The Christian Year, only reversing himself with
exasperation when this old friend became a Romeward-tending 'High
Church' reactionary in the 1830s." In 1828, Arnold's father was
appointed Headmaster of
Rugby School and his young family took up
residence, that year, in the Headmaster's house. In 1831, Arnold was
tutored by his uncle, Rev. John Buckland in the small village of
Laleham. In 1834, the Arnolds occupied a holiday home, Fox How, in the
William Wordsworth was a neighbour and close friend. In
1836, Arnold was sent to Winchester College, but in 1837 he returned
Rugby School where he was enrolled in the fifth form. He moved to
the sixth form in 1838 and thus came under the direct tutelage of his
father. He wrote verse for the manuscript Fox How Magazine co-produced
with his brother Tom for the family's enjoyment from 1838 to 1843.
During his years there, he won school prizes for English essay
writing, and Latin and English poetry. His prize poem, "Alaric at
Rome," was printed at Rugby.
In 1841, he won an open scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. During
his residence at Oxford, his friendship ripened with Arthur Hugh
Clough, another Rugby old boy who had been one of his father's
favourites. Arnold attended John Henry Newman's sermons at St. Mary's
but did not join the Oxford Movement. His father died suddenly of
heart disease in 1842, and Fox How became his family's permanent
residence. Arnold's poem Cromwell won the 1843 Newdigate prize. He
graduated in the following year with a 2nd class honours degree in
Literae Humaniores (colloquially Greats).
In 1845, after a short interlude of teaching at Rugby, he was elected
Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. In 1847, he became Private Secretary
to Lord Lansdowne, Lord President of the Council. In 1849, he
published his first book of poetry, The Strayed Reveller. In 1850
Wordsworth died; Arnold published his "Memorial Verses" on the older
poet in Fraser's Magazine.
Marriage and a career
Wishing to marry, but unable to support a family on the wages of a
private secretary, Arnold sought the position of, and was appointed,
in April 1851, one of Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools. Two months
later, he married Frances Lucy, daughter of Sir William Wightman,
Justice of the Queen's Bench. The Arnolds had six children: Thomas
(1852–1868); Trevenen William (1853–1872); Richard Penrose
(1855–1908), an inspector of factories; Lucy Charlotte
(1858–1934) who married Frederick W. Whitridge of New York, whom she
had met during Arnold's American lecture tour; Eleanore Mary Caroline
(1861–1936) married (1) Hon. Armine Wodehouse (MP) in 1889, (2)
William Mansfield, 1st Viscount Sandhurst, in 1909; Basil Francis
Arnold often described his duties as a school inspector as "drudgery,"
although "at other times he acknowledged the benefit of regular
work." The inspectorship required him, at least at first, to travel
constantly and across much of England. "Initially, Arnold was
responsible for inspecting Nonconformist schools across a broad swath
of central England. He spent many dreary hours during the 1850s in
railway waiting-rooms and small-town hotels, and longer hours still in
listening to children reciting their lessons and parents reciting
their grievances. But that also meant that he, among the first
generation of the railway age, travelled across more of
any man of letters had ever done. Although his duties were later
confined to a smaller area, Arnold knew the society of provincial
England better than most of the metropolitan authors and politicians
of the day."
James Tissot published in Vanity Fair in 1871.
In 1852, Arnold published his second volume of poems, Empedocles on
Etna, and Other Poems. In 1853, he published Poems: A New Edition, a
selection from the two earlier volumes famously excluding Empedocles
on Etna, but adding new poems,
Sohrab and Rustum and The Scholar
Gipsy. In 1854, Poems: Second Series appeared; also a selection, it
included the new poem, Balder Dead.
Arnold was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1857, and he was
the first in this position to deliver his lectures in English rather
than in Latin. He was re-elected in 1862. On Translating Homer
(1861) and the initial thoughts that Arnold would transform into
Culture and Anarchy were among the fruits of the Oxford lectures. In
1859, he conducted the first of three trips to the continent at the
behest of parliament to study European educational practices. He
self-published The Popular Education of France (1861), the
introduction to which was later published under the title Democracy
Matthew Arnold's grave at All Saints' Church, Laleham, Surrey.
In 1865, Arnold published Essays in Criticism: First Series. Essays in
Criticism: Second Series would not appear until November 1888, shortly
after his untimely death. In 1866, he published Thyrsis, his elegy to
Clough who had died in 1861. Culture and Anarchy, Arnold's major work
in social criticism (and one of the few pieces of his prose work
currently in print) was published in 1869. Literature and Dogma,
Arnold's major work in religious criticism appeared in 1873. In 1883
and 1884, Arnold toured the United States and Canada delivering
lectures on education, democracy and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was
elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences in 1883. In 1886, he retired from school inspection and
made another trip to America.
Arnold died suddenly in 1888 of heart failure whilst running to meet a
tram that would have taken him to the
Liverpool Landing Stage to see
his daughter, who was visiting from the United States where she had
moved after marrying an American. Mrs. Arnold died in June 1901.
Caricature from Punch, 1881: "Admit that Homer sometimes nods, That
poets do write trash, Our Bard has written "Balder Dead," And also
"Matthew Arnold," wrote G. W. E. Russell in Portraits of the
Seventies, is "a man of the world entirely free from worldliness and a
man of letters without the faintest trace of pedantry". Arnold was
a familiar figure at the Athenaeum Club, a frequent diner-out and
guest at great country houses, fond of fishing and shooting, and a
lively conversationalist, with a self-consciously cultivated air
combining foppishness and Olympian grandeur. He read constantly,
widely, and deeply, and in the intervals of supporting himself and his
family by the quiet drudgery of school inspecting, filled notebook
after notebook with meditations of an almost monastic tone. In his
writings, he often baffled and sometimes annoyed his contemporaries by
the apparent contradiction between his urbane, even frivolous manner
in controversy, and the "high seriousness" of his critical views and
the melancholy, almost plaintive note of much of his poetry. "A voice
poking fun in the wilderness" was T. H. Warren's description of him.
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Arnold is sometimes called the third great Victorian poet, along with
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning. Arnold was keenly aware
of his place in poetry. In an 1869 letter to his mother, he wrote:
My poems represent, on the whole, the main movement of mind of the
last quarter of a century, and thus they will probably have their day
as people become conscious to themselves of what that movement of mind
is, and interested in the literary productions which reflect it. It
might be fairly urged that I have less poetical sentiment than
Tennyson and less intellectual vigour and abundance than Browning; yet
because I have perhaps more of a fusion of the two than either of
them, and have more regularly applied that fusion to the main line of
modern development, I am likely enough to have my turn as they have
Stefan Collini regards this as "an exceptionally frank, but not
unjust, self-assessment. ... Arnold's poetry continues to have
scholarly attention lavished upon it, in part because it seems to
furnish such striking evidence for several central aspects of the
intellectual history of the nineteenth century, especially the
corrosion of 'Faith' by 'Doubt'. No poet, presumably, would wish to be
summoned by later ages merely as an historical witness, but the sheer
intellectual grasp of Arnold's verse renders it peculiarly liable to
Harold Bloom echoes Arnold's self-characterization in his introduction
(as series editor) to the Modern Critical Views volume on Arnold:
"Arnold got into his poetry what Tennyson and Browning scarcely needed
(but absorbed anyway), the main march of mind of his time." Of his
poetry, Bloom says,
"Whatever his achievement as a critic of literature, society, or
religion, his work as a poet may not merit the reputation it has
continued to hold in the twentieth century. Arnold is, at his best, a
very good but highly derivative poet.... As with Tennyson, Hopkins,
and Rossetti, Arnold's dominant precursor was Keats, but this is an
unhappy puzzle, since Arnold (unlike the others) professed not to
Keats greatly, while writing his own elegiac poems in a
diction, meter, imagistic procedure, that are embarrassingly close to
Edmund Chambers noted, however, that "in a comparison between the
best works of
Matthew Arnold and that of his six greatest
contemporaries... the proportion of work which endures is greater in
the case of
Matthew Arnold than in any one of them." Chambers
judged Arnold's poetic vision by
"its simplicity, lucidity, and straightforwardness; its
literalness...; the sparing use of aureate words, or of far-fetched
words, which are all the more effective when they come; the avoidance
of inversions, and the general directness of syntax, which gives full
value to the delicacies of a varied rhythm, and makes it, of all verse
that I know, the easiest to read aloud."
He has a primary school named after him in Liverpool, where he died,
and secondary schools named after him in Oxford and Staines.
His literary career — leaving out the two prize poems — had begun
in 1849 with the publication of The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems
by A., which attracted little notice and was soon withdrawn. It
contained what is perhaps Arnold's most purely poetical poem, "The
Forsaken Merman." Empedocles on Etna and Other Poems (among them
"Tristram and Iseult"), published in 1852, had a similar fate. In 1858
he published his tragedy of Merope, calculated, he wrote to a friend,
"rather to inaugurate my Professorship with dignity than to move
deeply the present race of humans," and chiefly remarkable for some
experiments in unusual – and unsuccessful – metres.
His 1867 poem, "Dover Beach," depicted a nightmarish world from which
the old religious verities have receded. It is sometimes held up as an
early, if not the first, example of the modern sensibility. In a
famous preface to a selection of the poems of William Wordsworth,
Arnold identified, a little ironically, as a "Wordsworthian." The
influence of Wordsworth, both in ideas and in diction, is unmistakable
in Arnold's best poetry. Arnold's poem, "Dover Beach" was included in
Ray Bradbury's novel, Fahrenheit 451, and is also featured prominently
in the novel Saturday by Ian McEwan. It has also been quoted or
alluded to in a variety of other contexts (see Dover Beach).
Some consider Arnold to be the bridge between
Modernism. His use of symbolic landscapes was typical of the Romantic
era, while his sceptical and pessimistic perspective was typical of
the Modern era. The rationalistic tendency of certain of his writings
gave offence to many readers, and the sufficiency of his equipment in
scholarship for dealing with some of the subjects which he handled was
called in question, but he undoubtedly exercised a stimulating
influence on his time. His writings are characterised by the finest
culture, high purpose, sincerity, and a style of great distinction,
and much of his poetry has an exquisite and subtle beauty, though here
also it has been doubted whether high culture and wide knowledge of
poetry did not sometimes take the place of true poetic fire. Henry
James wrote that Matthew Arnold's poetry will appeal to those who
"like their pleasures rare" and who like to hear the poet "taking
The mood of Arnold's poetry tends to be of plaintive reflection, and
he is restrained in expressing emotion. He felt that poetry should be
the 'criticism of life' and express a philosophy. Arnold's philosophy
is that true happiness comes from within, and that people should seek
within themselves for good, while being resigned in acceptance of
outward things and avoiding the pointless turmoil of the world.
However, he argues that we should not live in the belief that we shall
one day inherit eternal bliss. If we are not happy on earth, we should
moderate our desires rather than live in dreams of something that may
never be attained. This philosophy is clearly expressed in such poems
as "Dover Beach" and in these lines from "Stanzas from the Grande
Wandering between two worlds, one dead
The other powerless to be born,
With nowhere yet to rest my head
Like these, on earth I wait forlorn.
Arnold valued natural scenery for its peace and permanence in contrast
with the ceaseless change of human things. His descriptions are often
picturesque, and marked by striking similes. However, at the same time
he liked subdued colours, mist and moonlight. He seems to prefer the
'spent lights' of the sea-depths in "The Forsaken Merman" to the
village life preferred by the merman's lost wife.
In his poetry he derived not only the subject matter of his narrative
poems from various traditional or literary sources but even much of
the romantic melancholy of his earlier poems from Senancour's
Assessing the importance of Arnold's prose work in 1988, Stefan
Collini stated, "for reasons to do with our own cultural
preoccupations as much as with the merits of his writing, the best of
his prose has a claim on us today that cannot be matched by his
poetry." "Certainly there may still be some readers who, vaguely
recalling 'Dover Beach' or 'The Scholar Gipsy' from school
anthologies, are surprised to find he 'also' wrote prose."
George Watson follows
George Saintsbury in dividing Arnold's career as
a prose writer into three phases: 1) early literary criticism that
begins with his preface to the 1853 edition of his poems and ends with
the first series of Essays in Criticism (1865); 2) a prolonged middle
period (overlapping the first and third phases) characterised by
social, political and religious writing (roughly 1860–1875); 3) a
return to literary criticism with the selecting and editing of
collections of Wordsworth's and Byron's poetry and the second series
of Essays in Criticism. Both Watson and Saintsbury declare their
preference for Arnold's literary criticism over his social or
religious criticism. More recent writers, such as Collini, have shown
a greater interest in his social writing, while over the years a
significant second tier of criticism has focused on Arnold's religious
writing. His writing on education has not drawn a significant
critical endeavour separable from the criticism of his social
Selections from the Prose Work of Matthew Arnold
Arnold's work as a literary critic began with the 1853 "Preface to the
Poems". In it, he attempted to explain his extreme act of
self-censorship in excluding the dramatic poem "Empedocles on Etna".
With its emphasis on the importance of subject in poetry, on
"clearness of arrangement, rigor of development, simplicity of style"
learned from the Greeks, and in the strong imprint of
Wordsworth, may be observed nearly all the essential elements in his
critical theory. George Watson described the preface, written by the
thirty-one-year-old Arnold, as "oddly stiff and graceless when we
think of the elegance of his later prose."
Criticism began to take first place in Arnold's writing with his
appointment in 1857 to the professorship of poetry at Oxford, which he
held for two successive terms of five years. In 1861 his lectures On
Translating Homer were published, to be followed in 1862 by Last Words
on Translating Homer, both volumes admirable in style and full of
striking judgments and suggestive remarks, but built on rather
arbitrary assumptions and reaching no well-established
conclusions. Especially characteristic, both of his
defects and his qualities, are on the one hand, Arnold's unconvincing
advocacy of English hexameters and his creation of a kind of literary
absolute in the "grand style," and, on the other, his keen feeling of
the need for a disinterested and intelligent criticism in England.
Although Arnold's poetry received only mixed reviews and attention
during his lifetime, his forays into literary criticism were more
successful. Arnold is famous for introducing a methodology of literary
criticism somewhere between the historicist approach common to many
critics at the time and the personal essay; he often moved quickly and
easily from literary subjects to political and social issues. His
Essays in Criticism (1865, 1888), remains a significant influence on
critics to this day, and his prefatory essay to that collection, "The
Function of Criticism at the Present Time", is one of the most
influential essays written on the role of the critic in identifying
and elevating literature — even while admitting, "The critical power
is of lower rank than the creative." In one of his most famous essays
on the topic, "The Study of Poetry", Arnold wrote that, "Without
poetry, our science will appear incomplete; and most of what now
passes with us for religion and philosophy will be replaced by
poetry". He considered the most important criteria used to judge the
value of a poem were "high truth" and "high seriousness". By this
Canterbury Tales did not merit Arnold's approval.
Further, Arnold thought the works that had been proven to possess both
"high truth" and "high seriousness", such as those of Shakespeare and
Milton, could be used as a basis of comparison to determine the merit
of other works of poetry. He also sought for literary criticism to
remain disinterested, and said that the appreciation should be of "the
object as in itself it really is."
He was led on from literary criticism to a more general critique of
the spirit of his age. Between 1867 and 1869 he wrote Culture and
Anarchy, famous for the term he popularised for the middle class of
Victorian era population: "Philistines", a word which
derives its modern cultural meaning (in English – the
German-language usage was well established) from him. Culture and
Anarchy is also famous for its popularisation of the phrase "sweetness
and light," first coined by Jonathan Swift.
Arnold's "want of logic and thoroughness of thought" as noted by John
M. Robertson in Modern Humanists was an aspect of the inconsistency of
which Arnold was accused. Few of his ideas were his own, and he
failed to reconcile the conflicting influences which moved him so
strongly. "There are four people, in especial," he once wrote to
Cardinal Newman, "from whom I am conscious of having learnt – a very
different thing from merely receiving a strong impression – learnt
habits, methods, ruling ideas, which are constantly with me; and the
four are – Goethe, Wordsworth, Sainte-Beuve, and yourself." Dr.
Arnold must be added; the son's fundamental likeness to the father was
early pointed out by Swinburne, and was later attested by Matthew
Arnold's grandson, Mr. Arnold Whitridge.
In 1887, Arnold was credited with coining the phrase "New Journalism",
a term that went on to define an entire genre of newspaper history,
particularly Lord Northcliffe's turn-of-the-century press empire.
However, at the time, the target of Arnold's irritation was not
Northcliffe, but the sensational journalism of Pall Mall Gazette
editor, W.T. Stead. Arnold had enjoyed a long and mutually
beneficial association with the
Pall Mall Gazette
Pall Mall Gazette since its inception
in 1865. As an occasional contributor, he had formed a particular
friendship with its first editor,
Frederick Greenwood and a close
acquaintance with its second, John Morley. But he strongly disapproved
of the muck-raking Stead, and declared that, under Stead, "the P.M.G.,
whatever may be its merits, is fast ceasing to be literature."
His religious views were unusual for his time. Scholars of Arnold's
works disagree on the nature of Arnold's personal religious beliefs.
Under the influence of
Baruch Spinoza and his father, Dr. Thomas
Arnold, he rejected the supernatural elements in religion, even while
retaining a fascination for church rituals. Arnold seems to belong to
a middle ground that is more concerned with the poetry of religion and
its virtues and values for society than with the existence of
God. In the preface to God and the Bible, written in
1875, Arnold recounts a powerful sermon he attended discussing the
"salvation by Jesus Christ", he writes: "Never let us deny to this
story power and pathos, or treat with hostility ideas which have
entered so deep into the life of Christendom. But the story is not
true; it never really happened".
He continues to express his concern with Biblical truth explaining
that "The personages of the Christian heaven and their conversations
are no more matter of fact than the personages of the Greek Olympus
and their conversations." He also wrote in Literature and Dogma:
"The word 'God' is used in most cases as by no means a term of science
or exact knowledge, but a term of poetry and eloquence, a term thrown
out, so to speak, as a not fully grasped object of the speaker's
consciousness – a literary term, in short; and mankind mean
different things by it as their consciousness differs." He defined
religion as "morality touched with emotion".
However, he also wrote in the same book, "to pass from a Christianity
relying on its miracles to a Christianity relying on its natural truth
is a great change. It can only be brought about by those whose
attachment to Christianity is such, that they cannot part with it, and
yet cannot but deal with it sincerely."
London County Council
London County Council blue plaque for Arnold at 2 Chester Square,
Harold Bloom writes that "Whatever his achievement as a critic of
literature, society or religion, his work as a poet may not merit the
reputation it has continued to hold in the twentieth century. Arnold
is, at his best, a very good, but highly derivative poet, unlike
Tennyson, Browning, Hopkins, Swinburne and Rossetti, all of whom
individualized their voices." 
The writer John Cowper Powys, an admirer, wrote that, "with the
possible exception of Merope, Matthew Arnold's poetry is arresting
from cover to cover – [he] is the great amateur of English poetry
[he] always has the air of an ironic and urbane scholar chatting
freely, perhaps a little indiscreetly, with his not very respectful
Partial list of works:
The Strayed Reveller, and Other Poems
Empedocles on Etna, and Other Poems
Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse
Sohrab and Rustum
Memorial Verses to Wordsworth
Stanzas in Memory of the Author of "Obermann"
Essays in Criticism
Culture and Anarchy
English translations of Homer: Matthew Arnold
^ Landow, George. Elegant Jeremiahs: The Sage from Carlyle to Mailer.
Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1986.
^ Honan, 1981, p. 5.
Edward Elgar dedicated one of the
Enigma Variations to
^ Collini, 1988, p. 21.
^ Collini, 1988, p. 21
^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 July 2014.
Retrieved 16 July 2014.
^ Super, CPW, II, p. 330.
^ "Literary Gossip". The Week : a Canadian journal of politics,
literature, science and arts. 1. 1: 13. 6 December 1883.
^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of
Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 25 April 2011.
^ "Obituary – Mrs. Matthew Arnold". The Times (36495). London. 1
July 1901. p. 11.
^ Russell, 1916[page needed]
^ Collini, 1988, p. 2.
^ Lang, Volume 3, p. 347.
^ Collini, 1988, p. 26.
^ Bloom, 1987, pp. 1–2.
^ Chambers, 1933, p. 159.
^ Chambers, 1933, p. 165.
^ Collini, 1988, p. vii.
^ Collini, 1988, p. 25.
^ Watson, 1962, pp. 150–160. Saintsbury, 1899, p. 78 passim.
^ Collini, 1988. Also see the introduction to
Culture and Anarchy and
other writings, Collini, 1993.
^ See "The Critical Reception of Arnold's Religious Writings" in
^ Mazzeno, 1999.
^ Arnold, Matthew (1913). William S. Johnson, ed. Selections from the
Prose Work of Matthew Arnold. Houghton Mifflin.
^ Watson, 1962, p. 147.
^ The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Sweetness
and light. Houghton Mifflin Company.
^ Robertson, John M. (1901). Modern Humanists. S. Sonnenschein.
p. 145. If, then, a man come to the criticism of life as Arnold
did, with neither a faculty nor a training for logic... it is
impossible that he should escape frequent error or
^ We have had opportunities of observing a new journalism which a
clever and energetic man has lately invented. It has much to recommend
it; it is full of ability, novelty, variety, sensation, sympathy,
generous instincts; its one great fault is that it is
feather-brained." Mathew Arnold, The Nineteenth century No. CXXIII.
(May 1887) pp. 629–643. Available online at attackingthedevil.co.uk
^ Quoted in Harold Begbie, The Life of General William Booth Archived
14 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine., (2 vols., New York, 1920).
^ a b Super, CPW, VII, p. 384.
^ Super, CPW, VI, p. 171.
^ Super, CPW, VI, p. 176.
^ Super, CPW, VI, p. 143.
^ Poets and Poems, Harold Bloom, p.203
^ The Pleasures of Literature, John Cowper Powys, p.397-398
^ Drabble, Margaret (2000). The Oxford Companion to English Literature
(6th edition). Oxford University Press. p. 42.
Abbreviation: CPW stands for Robert H. Super (editor), The Complete
Prose Works of Matthew Arnold, see Bibliography.
George W. E. Russell (editor), Letters of Matthew Arnold, 1849–88, 2
vols. (London and New York: Macmillan, 1895)
Published seven years after their author's death these letters were
heavily edited by Arnold's family.
Howard F. Lowry (editor), The Letters of
Matthew Arnold to Arthur Hugh
Clough (New York: Oxford University Press, 1932)
C. B. Tinker and H. F. Lowry (editors), The Poetical Works of Matthew
Arnold, Oxford University Press, 1950 standard edition,
Kenneth Allott (editor), The Poems of
Matthew Arnold (London and New
York: Longman Norton, 1965) ISBN 0-393-04377-0
Part of the "Annotated English Poets Series," Allott includes 145
poems (with fragments and juvenilia) all fully annotated.
Robert H. Super (editor), The Complete Prose Works of Matthew Arnold
in eleven volumes (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press,
Miriam Allott and Robert H. Super (editors), The Oxford Authors:
Matthew Arnold (Oxford: Oxford university Press, 1986)
A strong selection from Miriam Allot, who had (silently) assisted her
husband in editing the Longman Norton annotated edition of Arnold's
poems, and Robert H. Super, editor of the eleven volume complete
Stefan Collini (editor),
Culture and Anarchy and other writings
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993) part of the Cambridge
Texts in the History of Political Thought series.
Collini's introduction to this edition attempts to show that "Culture
and Anarchy, first published in 1869, has left a lasting impress upon
subsequent debate about the relation between politics and culture"
—Introduction, p. ix.
Cecil Y. Lang (editor), The Letters of
Matthew Arnold in six volumes
(Charlottesville and London: The University Press of Virginia,
Biographies (by publication date):
Matthew Arnold (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company,
Saintsbury combines biography with critical appraisal. In his view,
"Arnold's greatness lies in 'his general literary position' (p. 227).
Neither the greatest poet nor the greatest critic, Arnold was able to
achieve distinction in both areas, making his contributions to
literature greater than those of virtually any other writer before
him." Mazzeno, 1999, p. 8.
Herbert W. Paul, Mathew Arnold (London: Macmillan, 1902)
G. W. E. Russell,
Matthew Arnold (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons,
Matthew Arnold (New York: Norton, 1939)
Trilling called his study a "biography of a mind."
Park Honan, Matthew Arnold, a life (New York, McGraw–Hill, 1981)
"Trilling's book challenged and delighted me but failed to take me
close to Matthew Arnold's life. ... I decided in 1970 to write a
definitive biography... Three-quarters of the biographical data in
this book, I may say, has not appeared in a previous study of Arnold."
—Preface, pp. viii–ix.
Stefan Collini, Arnold (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988)
A good starting point for those new to Arnold's prose. "Like many late
century scholars, Collini believes Arnold's chief contribution to
English literature is as a critic. ... Collini insists Arnold remains
a force in literary criticism because 'he characterizes in
unforgettable ways' the role that literary and cultural criticism 'can
and must play in modern societies'" (p 67). Mazzeno, 1999, pp.
Nicholas Murray, A Life of
Matthew Arnold (New York: St. Martin's,
"...focuses on the conflicts between Arnold's public and private
lives. A poet himself, Murray believes Arnold was a superb poet who
turned to criticism when he realised his gift for verse was fading."
Mazzeno, 1999, p. 118.
Ian Hamilton, A Gift Imprisoned: A Poetic Life of Matthew Arnold
(London: Bloomsbury, 1998)
"Choosing to concentrate on the development of Arnold's talents as a
poet, Hamilton takes great pains to explore the biographical and
literary sources of Arnold's verse." Mazzeno, 1999, p. 118.
Thomas Burnett Smart, The Bibliography of
Matthew Arnold 1892,
(reprinted New York: Burt Franklin, 1968, Burt Franklin Bibliography
and Reference Series #159)
Laurence W. Mazzeno, Matthew Arnold: The Critical Legacy (Woodbridge:
Camden House, 1999)
Not a true bibliography, nonetheless, it provides thorough coverage
and intelligent commentary for the critical writings on Arnold.
Matthew Arnold or containing significant discussion of
Arnold (by publication date):
Stephen, Leslie (1898). "Matthew Arnold". Studies of a Biographer. 2.
London: Duckworth and Co. pp. 76–122.
G. W. E. Russell, Portraits of the Seventies (New York: Charles
Scribner's Sons, 1916)
Sir Edmund Chambers, "Matthew Arnold," Watson Lecture on English
Poetry, 1932, in English Critical Essays: Twentieth century, Phyllis
M. Jones (editor) (London: Oxford University Press, 1933)
T. S. Eliot, "Matthew Arnold" in The Use of Poetry and the Use of
Criticism (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1933)
This is Eliot's second essay on Matthew Arnold. The title of the
series consciously echoes Arnold's essay, “The Function of Criticism
at the Present Time” (1864).
Professors Chauncey Brewster Tinker and Howard Foster Lowry, The
Poetry of Matthew Arnold: A Commentary (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1940) Alibris ID 8235403151
W. F. Connell, The Educational Thought and Influence of Matthew Arnold
(London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Ltd, 1950)
Mazzeno describes this as the "definitive word" on Arnold's
educational thought. Mazzeno, 1999, p. 42.
George Watson, "Matthew Arnold" in The Literary Critics: A Study of
English Descriptive Criticism (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1962)
A. Dwight Culler, "Imaginative Reason: The Poetry of Matthew Arnold"
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966).
Stefan Collini as "the most comprehensive discussion" of
the poetry in his "Arnold" Past Masters, p.121.
David J. DeLaura, "Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England: Newman,
Arnold, and Pater" (Austin: University of Texas Pr, 1969).
This celebrated study brilliantly situates Arnold in the intellectual
history of his time.
Northrop Frye, The Critical Path: An Essay on the Social Context of
Literary Criticism (in "Daedalus", 99, 2, pp. 268–342, Spring 1970;
then New York: Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1983)
Joseph Carroll, The Cultural Theory of Matthew Arnold. (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1981)
Ruth apRoberts, Arnold and God (Berkeley: University of California
Harold Bloom (editor), W. H. Auden, J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey
Tillotson, G. Wilson Knight, William Robbins, William E. Buckler, Ruth
apRoberts, A. Dwight Culler, and Sara Suleri, Modern Critical Views:
Matthew Arnold (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987)
David G. Riede,
Matthew Arnold and the Betrayal of Language
(Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1988)
"...explores Arnold's attempts to find an authoratative language, and
argues that his occasional claims for such language reveal more
uneasiness than confidence in the value of 'letters.' ... Riede argues
that Arnold's determined efforts to write with authority, combined
with his deep-seated suspicion of his medium, result in an exciting if
often agonised tension in his poetic language." –from the book flap.
Donald Stone, Communications with the Future:
Matthew Arnold in
Dialogue (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997)
Linda Ray Pratt,
Matthew Arnold Revisited, (New York: Twayne
Publishers, 2000) ISBN 0-8057-1698-X
Francesco Marroni, Miti e mondi vittoriani (Rome: Carocci, 2004)
Renzo D'Agnillo, The Poetry of
Matthew Arnold (Rome: Aracne, 2005)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Matthew Arnold.
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Matthew Arnold
Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Matthew Arnold at Project Gutenberg
Matthew Arnold at Faded Page (Canada)
Works by or about
Matthew Arnold at Internet Archive
Matthew Arnold at
LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
Full text of 'The Function of Criticism at the Present Time' at The
Matthew Arnold at Poetseers
Matthew Arnold, by G. W. E. Russell, at Project Gutenberg
The Letters of
Matthew Arnold Digital Edition, at the University of
Matthew Arnold at Find a Grave
Lesson plans for
Dover Beach at Web English Teacher
"Archival material relating to Matthew Arnold". UK National
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical
Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons.
The W.T. Stead Resource Site
A Bibliography of the Works of
Matthew Arnold by Tod E. Jones
Plaque #38 on Open Plaques.
Anonymous (1873). Cartoon portraits and biographical sketches of men
of the day. Illustrated by Frederick Waddy. London: Tinsley Brothers.
pp. 136–37. Retrieved 13 March 2011.
Matthew Arnold at University of Toronto Libraries
Literature and Science (1882)
Mathew Arnold Letters and Works at Texas Tech University Libraries
On Translating Homer
On Translating Homer (1861)
Culture and Anarchy (1869)
Tristram and Iseult
Tristram and Iseult (1852)
"To Marguerite: Continued" (1852)
"The Scholar Gipsy" (1853)
Sohrab and Rustum (1853)
Balder Dead (1855)
"Dover Beach" (1867)
Tom Arnold (brother)
Thomas Arnold (father)
William Delafield Arnold (brother)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2139 385X
BNF: cb12031515q (data)