Poet. Born and lived at The Leasowes, Halesowen, Worcestershire, which, up to the early years of the 18th century was in part of Shropshire. He was educated at Solihull Grammar School, befriending the future poet Richard Jago, before going on to study at Pembroke College, Oxford, but without taking a degree. On inheriting The Leasowes he spent much time and money on landscaping the estate.
His diverse output includes verse, elegies odes, ballads and prose, including correspondence of which he was particularly proud. Shenstone's work is somewhat self-conscious and pretty and is scarcely remembered today, with the possible exception of the pastoral poem The schoolmistress (1742), written in the style of Edmund Spenser. This was praised by Dr. Johnson and Thomas Gray, the latter's Elegy written in a country churchyard (1751) being in a similar style.
William Shenstone took an interest in the poetry of Mary Darwall (1738-1825) from nearby Walsall.
There are several collections of poetry and letters of William Shenstone in the West Midlands Creative Literature Collection.
A sample chapter and the complete text of the following are available on this website.
A selection of poetry by the author can be found in Representative poetry online, part of the University of Toronto site.
Page created 9 February 2001 and last
updated 10 February 2003
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