Jonathan Swift was an Anglo-Irish satirist, political pamphleteer and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. Swift is remembered for works such as A Tale of a Tub, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, Gulliver's Travels, A Modest Proposal, he is regarded by the Encyclopædia Britannica as the foremost prose satirist in the English language, is less well known for his poetry. He published all of his works under pseudonyms – such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M. B. Drapier – or anonymously, he was a master of two styles of the Horatian and Juvenalian styles. His deadpan, ironic writing style in A Modest Proposal, has led to such satire being subsequently termed "Swiftian". Jonathan Swift was born on 30 November 1667 in Ireland, he was the second child and only son of Jonathan Swift and his wife Abigail Erick of Frisby on the Wreake. His father was a native of Goodrich, but he accompanied his brothers to Ireland to seek their fortunes in law after their Royalist father's estate was brought to ruin during the English Civil War.
His maternal grandfather, James Ericke, was the vicar of England. In 1634 the vicar was convicted of Puritan practices; some time thereafter and his family, including his young daughter Abilgail, fled to Ireland. Swift's father joined Godwin, in the practice of law in Ireland, he died in Dublin. He died of syphilis. At the age of one, child Jonathan was taken by his wet nurse to her hometown of Whitehaven, England, he said. His nurse returned him still in Ireland, when he was three, his mother returned to England after his birth, leaving him in the care of his Uncle Godwin, a close friend and confidant of Sir John Temple whose son employed Swift as his secretary. Swift's family had several interesting literary connections, his grandmother Elizabeth Swift was the niece of Sir Erasmus Dryden, grandfather of poet John Dryden. The same grandmother's aunt Katherine Dryden was a first cousin of Elizabeth, wife of Sir Walter Raleigh, his great-great grandmother Margaret Swift was the sister of Francis Godwin, author of The Man in the Moone which influenced parts of Swift's Gulliver's Travels.
His uncle Thomas Swift married a daughter of poet and playwright Sir William Davenant, a godson of William Shakespeare. Swift's benefactor and uncle Godwin Swift took primary responsibility for the young man, sending him with one of his cousins to Kilkenny College, he arrived there at the age of six, where he was expected to have learned the basic declensions in Latin. He had so started at a lower form. Swift graduated in 1682, when he was 15, he attended Dublin University in 1682, financed by Godwin's son Willoughby. The four-year course followed a curriculum set in the Middle Ages for the priesthood; the lectures were dominated by Aristotelian philosophy. The basic skill taught the students was debate and they were expected to be able to argue both sides of any argument or topic. Swift was an above-average student but not exceptional, received his B. A. in 1686 "by special grace."Swift was studying for his master's degree when political troubles in Ireland surrounding the Glorious Revolution forced him to leave for England in 1688, where his mother helped him get a position as secretary and personal assistant of Sir William Temple at Moor Park, Farnham.
Temple was an English diplomat who arranged the Triple Alliance of 1668. He had retired from public service to his country estate to write his memoirs. Gaining his employer's confidence, Swift "was trusted with matters of great importance". Within three years of their acquaintance, Temple had introduced his secretary to William III and sent him to London to urge the King to consent to a bill for triennial Parliaments. Swift took up his residence at Moor Park where he met Esther Johnson eight years old, the daughter of an impoverished widow who acted as companion to Temple's sister Lady Giffard. Swift was her tutor and mentor, giving her the nickname "Stella", the two maintained a close but ambiguous relationship for the rest of Esther's life. In 1690, Swift left Temple for Ireland because of his health but returned to Moor Park the following year; the illness consisted of fits of vertigo or giddiness, now known to be Ménière's disease, it continued to plague him throughout his life. During this second stay with Temple, Swift received his M.
A. from Hart Hall, Oxford, in 1692. He left Moor Park despairing of gaining a better position through Temple's patronage, to become an ordained priest in the Established Church of Ireland, he was appointed to the prebend of Kilroot in the Diocese of Connor in 1694, with his parish located at Kilroot, near Carrickfergus in County Antrim. Swift appears to have been miserable in his new position, being isolated in a small, remote community far from the centres of power and influence. While at Kilroot, however, he may well have become romantically involved with Jane Waring, whom he called "Varina", the sister of an old college friend. A letter from him survives, offering to remain if she would marry him and promising to leave and never return to Ireland if she refused, she refused, because Swift left his post and returned to England and Temple's service at Moor Park in 1696, he remained there until Temple's death. There he was employ
Publius Ovidius Naso, known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature; the Imperial scholar Quintilian considered him the last of the Latin love elegists. He enjoyed enormous popularity, but, in one of the mysteries of literary history, was sent by Augustus into exile in a remote province on the Black Sea, where he remained until his death. Ovid himself attributes his exile to carmen et error, "a poem and a mistake", but his discretion in discussing the causes has resulted in much speculation among scholars; the first major Roman poet to begin his career during the reign of Augustus, Ovid is today best known for the Metamorphoses, a 15-book continuous mythological narrative written in the meter of epic, for works in elegiac couplets such as Ars Amatoria and Fasti. His poetry was much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, influenced Western art and literature.
The Metamorphoses remains one of the most important sources of classical mythology. Ovid talks more about his own life than most other Roman poets. Information about his biography is drawn from his poetry Tristia 4.10, which gives a long autobiographical account of his life. Other sources include Seneca the Quintilian. Ovid was born in Sulmo, in an Apennine valley east of Rome, to an important equestrian family, on 20 March, 43 BC; that was a significant year in Roman politics. He was educated in rhetoric in Rome under the teachers Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro with his brother who excelled at oratory, his father wanted him to study rhetoric toward the practice of law. According to Seneca the Elder, Ovid tended to not the argumentative pole of rhetoric. After the death of his brother at 20 years of age, Ovid renounced law and began travelling to Athens, Asia Minor, Sicily, he held minor public posts, as one of the tresviri capitales, as a member of the Centumviral court and as one of the decemviri litibus iudicandis, but resigned to pursue poetry around 29–25 BC, a decision his father disapproved of.
Ovid's first recitation has been dated to around 25 BC. He was part of the circle centered on the patron Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, seems to have been a friend of poets in the circle of Maecenas. In Trist. 4.10.41–54, Ovid mentions friendships with Macer, Horace and Bassus. He married three times and divorced twice by the time he was thirty years old, he had one daughter, who bore him grandchildren. His last wife was connected in some way to the influential gens Fabia and would help him during his exile in Tomis; the first 25 years of Ovid's literary career were spent writing poetry in elegiac meter with erotic themes. The chronology of these early works is not secure, his earliest extant work is thought to be the Heroides, letters of mythological heroines to their absent lovers, which may have been published in 19 BC, although the date is uncertain as it depends on a notice in Am. 2.18.19–26 that seems to describe the collection as an early published work. The authenticity of some of these poems has been challenged, but this first edition contained the first 14 poems of the collection.
The first five-book collection of the Amores, a series of erotic poems addressed to a lover, Corinna, is thought to have been published in 16–15 BC. 8–3 BC. Between the publications of the two editions of the Amores can be dated the premiere of his tragedy Medea, admired in antiquity but is no longer extant. Ovid's next poem, the Medicamina Faciei, a fragmentary work on women's beauty treatments, preceded the Ars Amatoria, the Art of Love, a parody of didactic poetry and a three-book manual about seduction and intrigue, dated to AD 2. Ovid may identify this work in his exile poetry as the carmen, or song, one cause of his banishment; the Ars Amatoria was followed by the Remedia Amoris in the same year. This corpus of elegiac, erotic poetry earned Ovid a place among the chief Roman elegists Gallus and Propertius, of whom he saw himself as the fourth member. By AD 8, he had completed his most ambitious work, the Metamorphoses, a hexameter epic poem in 15 books; the work encyclopedically catalogues transformations in Greek and Roman mythology, from the emergence of the cosmos to the apotheosis of Julius Caesar.
The stories follow each other in the telling of human beings transformed to new bodies: trees, animals, constellations etc. At the same time, he worked on the Fasti, a six-book poem in elegiac couplets on the theme of the calendar of Roman festivals and astronomy; the composition of this poem was interrupted by Ovid's exile, it is thought that Ovid abandoned work on the piece in Tomis. It is in this period, if they are indeed by Ovid, that the double letters in the Heroides were composed. In AD 8, Ovid was banished to Tomis, on the Black Sea, by the exclusive intervention of the Emperor Augustus, without any participation of the Senate or of any Roman judge; this event shaped all his following poetry. Ovid wrote that the reason for his exile was carmen et error – "a poem and a mistake", claiming that his crime was
Winthrop Mackworth Praed
Winthrop Mackworth Praed —typically written as W. Mackworth Praed—was an English politician and poet. Praed was born in London; the family name of Praed was derived from the marriage of the poet's great-grandfather to a Cornish heiress. Winthrop's father, William Mackworth Praed, was a revising barrister for Bath, his mother belonged to the English branch of the New England family of Winthrop. In 1814 Praed was sent to Eton College; this was succeeded in October 1820 by the Etonian, a paper projected and edited by Praed and Walter Blount, which appeared every month until July 1821, when the chief editor, who signed his contributions "Peregrine Courtenay," left Eton, the paper died. Henry Nelson Coleridge, William Sidney Walker, John Moultrie were the three best known of his collaborators on this periodical, published by Charles Knight, of which details are given in Knight's Autobiography and in Henry Maxwell Lyte's Eton College. Before Praed left school he had established, over a shop at Eton, a "boys' library," the books of which were amalgamated in the School Library.
His career at Trinity College, Cambridge was a brilliant one. He gained the Browne medal for Greek verse four times, the Chancellor's Gold Medal for English verse twice in 1823 and 1824, he was bracketed third in the classical tripos in 1825, won a fellowship at his college in 1827, three years carried off the Seatonian prize. At the Union his speeches were rivalled only by those of Macaulay and of Charles Austin, who subsequently made a great reputation at the parliamentary bar; the character of Praed during his university life is described by Bulwer-Lytton in the first volume of his Life. Praed began to study law, in 1829 was called to the bar at the Middle Temple. On the Norfolk circuit, his prospects of advancement were bright, but his inclination was towards politics, after a year or two he took up political life. Whilst at Cambridge he tended to Whiggism, up to the end of 1829 he continued to have these sympathies, but during the agitation for parliamentary reform his opinions changed, when he was returned to parliament for St Germans, his election was due to the Tory party.
He sat for that borough until December 1832, on its extinction contested the borough of St Ives, within the limits of which the Cornish estates of the Praeds were situated. The pieces he wrote on this occasion were collected in a volume printed at Penzance in 1833 and entitled Trash, dedicated without respect to James Halse, M. P. his successful opponent. Praed sat for Great Yarmouth from 1835 to 1837, was Secretary to the Board of Control during Sir Robert Peel's short administration, he sat for Aylesbury from 1837 until his death. During the progress of the Reform Act 1832 he advocated the creation of three-cornered constituencies, in which each voter should have the power of giving two votes only, maintained that freeholds within boroughs should confer votes for the boroughs and not for the county. Neither of these suggestions was adopted, but the former formed part of the Reform Act 1867. In 1835, he married Helen Bogle, he died of tuberculosis at London. W. Mackworth Praed was famed for his verse charades.
H. Austin Dobson praised Praed's "sparkling wit, the clearness and finish of his style, the flexibility and unflagging vivacity of his rhythm", his verse abounded in allusions to the follies of the day. His humour was much imitated, his poems were first edited by Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Sir George Young separated from his work some poems, the work of his friend Edward FitzGerald confused with his. Praed's essays, contributed to various magazines, were published in Morley's Universal Library in 1887. Praed was not only successful at Eton during his lifetime, but a society still exists that bears his name; the "Praed" society is the poetry society existing at Eton. It meets at a master's house and membership is by invitation; this article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Praed, Winthrop Mackworth". Encyclopædia Britannica. 22. Cambridge University Press. P. 240. Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Winthrop Mackworth Praed Works by or about Winthrop Mackworth Praed at Internet Archive Works by Winthrop Mackworth Praed at LibriVox
Sir Edmund William Gosse CB was an English poet and critic. He was brought up in a small Protestant sect, the Plymouth Brethren, but broke away from that faith, his account of his childhood in the book Father and Son has been described as the first psychological biography. His friendship with the sculptor Hamo Thornycroft inspired a successful career as a historian of late-Victorian sculpture, his translations of Ibsen helped to promote that playwright in England, he encouraged the careers of W. B. Yeats and James Joyce, he lectured in English literature at Cambridge. Gosse was the son of Philip Henry Emily Bowes, his father was his mother an illustrator who published a number of books of poetry. Both were committed to a small Protestant sect, the Plymouth Brethren, his childhood was happy as they spent their summers in Devon where his father was developing the ideas which gave rise to the craze for the marine aquarium. After his mother died of breast cancer when he was eight and they moved to Devon, his life with his father became strained by his father's expectations that he should follow in his religious tradition.
Gosse was sent to a boarding school. His father married in 1860 the religious Quaker spinster Eliza Brightwen, whose brother Thomas tried to encourage Edmund to become a banker, he gave an account of his childhood in the book Father and Son, described as the first psychological biography. At the age of 18 and working in the British Museum in London, he broke away from his father's influence in a dramatic coming of age. Eliza Gosse's brother George was the husband of Eliza Elder Brightwen, a naturalist and author, whose first book was published in 1890. After Eliza Elder Brightwen's death, Edmund Gosse arranged for the publication of her two posthumous works Last Hours with Nature and Eliza Brightwen, the Life and Thoughts of a Naturalist, both edited by W. H. Chesson, the latter book with an introduction and epilogue by Gosse. Gosse started his career as assistant librarian at the British Museum from 1867 alongside the songwriter Theo Marzials, a post which Charles Kingsley helped his father obtain for him.
An early book of poetry published with a friend John Arthur Blaikie gave him an introduction to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Trips to Denmark and Norway in 1872–74, where he visited Hans Christian Andersen and Frederik Paludan-Müller, led to publishing success with reviews of Henrik Ibsen and Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson in the Cornhill Magazine, he was soon reviewing Scandinavian literature in a variety of publications. He became acquainted with Alfred, Lord Tennyson and friends with Robert Browning, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Thomas Hardy and Henry James. In the meantime, he published his first solo volume of poetry, On Viol and Flute and a work of criticism, Studies in the Literature of Northern Europe. Gosse and Robert Louis Stevenson first met while teenagers, after 1879, when Stevenson came to London on occasion, he would stay with Gosse and his family. In 1875 Gosse became a translator at the Board of Trade, a post which he held until 1904 and gave him time for his writing and enabled him to marry and start a family.
From 1884 to 1890, Gosse lectured in English literature at Trinity College, despite his own lack of academic qualifications. Cambridge University gave him an honorary MA in 1886, Trinity College formally admitted him as a member,'by order of the Council', in 1889, he made a successful American lecture tour in 1884 and was much in demand as a speaker and on committees as well as publishing a string of critical works as well as poetry and histories. He became, in the 1880s, one of the most important art critics dealing with sculpture with an interest spurred on by his intimate friendship with the sculptor Hamo Thornycroft. Gosse would write the first history of the renaissance of late-Victorian sculpture in 1894 in a four-part series for The Art Journal, dubbing the movement the New Sculpture. In 1904, he became the librarian of the House of Lords Library, where he exercised considerable influence till he retired in 1914, he wrote for the Sunday Times, was an expert on Thomas Gray, William Congreve, John Donne, Jeremy Taylor, Coventry Patmore.
He can take credit for introducing Henrik Ibsen's work to the British public. Gosse and William Archer collaborated in translating The Master Builder. Gosse and Archer, along with George Bernard Shaw, were the literary critics most responsible for popularising Ibsen's plays among English-speaking audiences. Gosse was instrumental in getting official financial support for two struggling Irish writers, WB Yeats in 1910 and James Joyce in 1915; this enabled both writers to continue their chosen careers. His most famous book is the autobiographical Father and Son, about his troubled relationship with his Plymouth Brethren father, dramatised for television by Dennis Potter. Published anonymously in 1907, this followed a biography he had written of his father as naturalist, when he was urged by George Moore among others to write more about his own part. Historians caution, that notwithstanding its psychological insight and literary excellence, Gosse's narrative is at odds with the verifiable facts of his own and his parents' lives.
In life, he became a formative influence on Siegfried Sassoon, the nephew of his lifelong friend, Hamo Thornycroft. Sassoon's mother was a friend of Ellen. Gosse was closely tied to figures such as
William Cowper was an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry. Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him "the best modern poet", whilst William Wordsworth admired his poem Yardley-Oak. After being institutionalised for insanity, Cowper found refuge in a fervent evangelical Christianity, he continued to suffer doubt and, after a dream in 1773, believed that he was doomed to eternal damnation. He wrote more religious hymns, his religious sentiment and association with John Newton led to much of the poetry for which he is best remembered, to the series of Olney Hymns. His poem "Light Shining out of Darkness" gave English the phrase: "God moves in a mysterious way/His wonders to perform." He wrote a number of anti-slavery poems and his friendship with Newton, an avid anti-slavery campaigner, resulted in Cowper being asked to write in support of the Abolitionist campaign.
Cowper wrote a poem called "The Negro's Complaint" which became famous, was quoted by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the 20th century civil rights movement. He wrote several other less well known poems on slavery in the 1780s, many of which attacked the idea that slavery was economically viable. Cowper was born in Berkhamsted, where his father John Cowper was rector of the Church of St Peter, his father's sister was the poet Judith Madan. His mother was Ann née Donne, he and his brother John were the only two of seven children to live past infancy. Ann died giving birth to John on 7 November 1737, his mother’s death at such an early age troubled William and was the subject of his poem, "On the Receipt of My Mother's Picture", written more than fifty years later. He grew close to her family in his early years, he was close with her brother Robert and his wife Harriot. They instilled in young William a love of reading and gave him some of his first books – John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and John Gay’s Fables.
Cowper was first enrolled in Westminster School in April of 1742 after moving from school to school for a number of years. He had begun to study Latin from a young age, was an eager scholar of Latin for the rest of his life. Older children bullied Cowper through many of his younger years. At Westminster School he studied under the headmaster John Nicoll. At the time Westminster School was popular amongst families belonging to England’s Whig political party. Many intelligent boys from families of a lower social status attended, however. Cowper made lifelong friends from Westminster, he read through the Iliad and the Odyssey, which ignited his lifelong scholarship and love for Homer’s epics. He grew skilled at the interpretation and translation of Latin, which he put to use for the rest of his life, he wrote many verses of his own. After education at Westminster School, Cowper was articled to Mr Chapman, solicitor, of Ely Place, Holborn, to be trained for a career in law. During this time, he spent his leisure at the home of his uncle Bob Cowper, where he fell in love with his cousin Theodora, whom he wished to marry.
But as James Croft, who in 1825 first published the poems Cowper addressed to Theodora, wrote, "her father, from an idea that the union of persons so nearly related was improper, refused to accede to the wishes of his daughter and nephew." This refusal left Cowper distraught. In 1763 he was offered a Clerkship of Journals in the House of Lords, but broke under the strain of the approaching examination. At this time he tried three times to commit suicide and was sent to Nathaniel Cotton's asylum at St. Albans for recovery, his poem beginning "Hatred and vengeance, my eternal portions" was written in the aftermath of his suicide attempt. After recovering, he settled at Huntingdon with a retired clergyman named Morley Unwin and his wife Mary. Cowper grew to be on such good terms with the Unwin family that he went to live in their house, moved with them to Olney. There he met curate John Newton, a former captain of slave ships who had devoted his life to the gospel. Not long afterwards, Morley Unwin was killed in a fall from his horse.
At Olney, Newton invited Cowper to contribute to a hymnbook. The resulting volume, known as Olney Hymns, was not published until 1779 but includes hymns such as "Praise for the Fountain Opened" and "Light Shining out of Darkness" which remain some of Cowper's most familiar verses. Several of Cowper's hymns, as well as others published in the Olney Hymns, are today preserved in the Sacred Harp, which collects shape note songs. In 1773, Cowper experienced an attack of insanity, imagining not only that he was eternally condemned to hell, but that God was commanding him to make a sacrifice of his own life. Mary Unwin took care of him with great devotion, after a year he began to recover. In 1779, after Newton had moved from Olney to London, Cowper started to write poetry again. Mary Unwin, wanting to keep Cowper's mind occupied, suggested that he write on the subject of The Progress of Error. After writing a satire of this name, he wrote seven others; these poems were collected and published in 1782 under the title Poems by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq.
In 1781 Cowper met a sophisti
Jean-Baptiste Rousseau was a French playwright and poet noted for his cynical epigrams. Rousseau was born in Paris, the son of a shoemaker, was well educated; as a young man, he gained favour with Boileau. Rousseau began with the theatre. A one-act comedy, Le Café, failed in 1694, he was not much happier with a more ambitious play, Le Flatteur, or with the opera Venus et Adonis. In 1700 he tried Le Capricieux, which had the same fate, he went with Tallard as an attaché to London, and, in days when literature still led to high position, seemed to achieve success. His misfortunes began with a club squabble at the Café Laurent, much frequented by literary men, where he indulged in lampoons on his companions. A shower of libellous and sometimes obscene verses was written by or attributed to him, at last he was turned out of the café. At the same time his poems, as yet printed only singly or in manuscript, acquired him a great reputation, due to the dearth of genuine lyrical poetry between Jean Racine and André Chénier.
In 1701 he was made a member of the Académie des inscriptions. Verses more offensive than were handed round, gossip maintained that Rousseau was their author. Legal proceedings of various kinds followed, Rousseau ascribed the lampoon to Bernard-Joseph Saurin. In 1712 Rousseau was prosecuted for defamation of character, and, on his non-appearance in court, was condemned to perpetual exile, he spent the rest of his life in foreign countries except for a clandestine visit to Paris in 1738. Prince Eugene of Savoy and other persons of distinction took him under their protection during his exile, at Soleure he printed the first edition of his poetical works, he met Voltaire in Brussels in 1722. Voltaire's Le Pour et le contre is said to have shocked Rousseau, who expressed his sentiments freely. At any rate the latter had thenceforward no fiercer enemy than Voltaire, his death elicited from Jean-Jacques Lefranc, marquis de Pompignan an ode, better than anything of Rousseau's own work. That work may be divided into two sections.
One consists of formal and sacred odes and cantatas of the stiffest character, of which the Ode a la fortune is the most famous. As an epigrammatist Rousseau is inferior only to his friend Alexis Piron; the frigidity of conventional diction and the disuse of all lyrical rhythm which characterize his period do not prevent his odes and cantatas from showing at times true poetical faculty, though cramped, inadequate to explain his extraordinary vogue. Few writers were so reprinted during the 18th century, but in his own century La Harpe had arrived at a truer estimate of his real value when he said of his poetry: "Le fond n'est qu'un lieu commun chargé de déclamations et même d'idées fausses." Besides the Soleure edition mentioned above, Rousseau published an issue of his work in London in 1723. Le Café, comedy in one act, in prose Jason, opera in five acts, in verse Le Flatteur, comedy in five acts, in verse Vénus et Adonis, opera in five acts, in verse Le Capricieux, comedy in five acts, in verse La Noce de village, masque La Ceinture magique, comedy in one act, in prose Œuvres, cantates, épigrammes et poésies diverses, 2 vol.
L'Hypocondre, unpublished La Dupe de lui-même, unpublished La Mandragore, unpublished Les Aïeux chimériques, unpublished Lettres sur différents sujets de littérature Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Rousseau, Jean Baptiste". Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press. Works by or about Jean-Baptiste Rousseau at Internet Archive Works by Jean-Baptiste Rousseau at LibriVox
Arthur Reed Ropes, better known under the pseudonym Adrian Ross, was a prolific writer of lyrics, contributing songs to more than sixty British musical comedies in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was the most important lyricist of the British stage during a career. At a time when few shows had long runs, nineteen of his West End shows ran for over 400 performances. Starting out in the late 1880s, Ross wrote the lyrics for the earliest British musical theatre hits, including In Town, The Shop Girl and The Circus Girl. Ross next wrote the lyrics for a string of hit musicals, beginning with A Greek Slave, San Toy, The Messenger Boy and The Toreador and continuing without a break through World War I, he wrote the English lyrics for a series of hit adaptations of European operettas beginning with The Merry Widow in 1907. During World War I, Ross was one of the founders of the Performing Rights Society, he continued producing several more successes after the war. He wrote the popular novel The Hole of the Pit and a number of short stories.
Ross was born in London. He was the youngest son and fourth child of Ellen Harriet Ropes née Hall, of Scarborough, William Hooper Ropes, a Russia merchant. Ross's parents lived in Normandy, but sent him to school in London at Priory House School in Clapton, Mill Hill School, the City of London School, he attended King's College, where, in 1881, he won the Chancellor's Medal for English verse for his poem "Temple Bar", won the Members' Prize for the English essay. In 1883 he graduated with a first-class degree, winning the Lightfoot scholarship for history and a Whewell scholarship for international law, he was elected a fellow of the College. He was a Cambridge University graduate and don, teaching history and poetry from 1884 to 1890 and writing serious and comic verse of his own, the first volume of, published in 1884. In 1889, he published "A Sketch of the History of Europe", he was a translator of French and German literature under his own name. He created the fictitious name "Adrian Ross" due to a concern that writing musicals would compromise his academic career.
During a brief illness in 1883 after catching cold at the University Boat Race, Ross used the lonely time in bed to write the libretto of an entertainment entitled A Double Event. This was produced at St. George's Hall, London in 1884 with music by Arthur Law, Ross used the name "Arthur Reed", his next work for the stage as Arthur Reed, was the book and lyrics for a musical burlesque, with music by fellow Cambridge graduate, F. Osmond Carr; the piece earned enough praise so that the impresario George Edwardes commissioned the two to write another burlesque, together with the comic actor John Lloyd Shine, called Joan of Arc. Songs from the piece included "I Went to Find Emin", "Round the Town", "Jack the Dandy-O". Joan of Arc opened in 1891 at the Opera Comique starring Arthur Marion Hood; the piece was a hit, lasting for eight hundred performances, Ross resigned from Cambridge. To supplement his income from theatre writing, Ross became a contributor to such journals as Punch, Sketch and The World, he joined the staff of Ariel in 1891–1892.
He wrote in The Tatler under the pseudonym Bran Pie and in 1893 published an edition of Lady Mary Wortley Montague's Letters. He published numerous French texts for the Pitt Press series. Ross and Carr's next work, in collaboration with James T. Tanner, was In Town, a smart, contemporary tale of backstage and society goings-on; this left behind the earlier Gaiety burlesques and helped set the new fashion for the series of modern-dress Gaiety Theatre shows that spread to other theatres and dominated British musical theatre. For his next piece, Morocco Bound, Ross concentrated on writing lyrics, leaving the "book" to Arthur Branscombe; this proved to be his most successful model through most of his career. The position of "lyricist" was new, as the writers of libretti would invariably write the lyrics themselves; as the new Edwardes-produced "musical comedies" took the place of burlesque, comic opera and operetta on the stage and Harry Greenbank established the usefulness of a separate lyricist.
Ross contributed lyrics to all of the Gaiety Theatre's shows, beginning with The Shop Girl and Go-Bang in 1895. He wrote over two thousand lyrics and produced lyrics for over sixty musicals thereafter, including most of the hit musicals through World War I. In 1896, he contributed to The Circus Girl, he wrote lyrics for the one-act comic opera, Weather or No, which played as a companion piece to The Mikado at the Savoy Theatre, as well as several other Savoy operas, such as Mirette, His Majesty, or The Court of Vignolia, The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein and The Lucky Star. Ross wrote lyrics for the shows at Daly's Theatre, his lyrics to additional numbers for An Artist's Model and The Geisha were successful enough so that Edwardes asked him for major contributions to the rest, beginning with A Greek Slave after the death of the theatre's early chief lyricist, Harry Greenbank. These included a series of enormous successes, including San Toy, The Messenger Boy, Kitty Grey, The Toreador, A Country Girl, The Girl from Kays, The Orchid, The Cingalee, The Spring