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A writer who wore several hats throughout his career, Alfred Austin was a critic, novelist and political journalist. Although he was educated in law, his professional life focused primarily on literature. Austin published regularly for half a century and succeeded Alfred, Lord Tennyson as poet laureate of England in 1896. Nonetheless, he carries the reputation of having been the worst and least read English poet. Austin was born on May 30, 1835, in Headingley, near Leeds, to Roman Catholic parents Joseph and Mary Austin. His father was a merchant and a magistrate of Headingley and his mother was the sister of Joseph Locke, a member of Parliament and a civil engineer. He was schooled first at Stoneyhurst College and then St. Mary's College, Oscott. He received a B.A. in 1853 from the University of London. Called to the Bar of the Inner Temple in 1857, he became a barrister on the Northern Circuit at his parents urging but left the legal world within three years in pursuit of a career in literature. This decision came upon the heels of his father's death in 1861 and his newfound financial freedom with the assumption of an inheritance. In 1855, he published Randolph: A Poem in Two Cantos, and three years later he published a novel, entitled Five Years of It. From 1866 to 1896, he worked as a foreign affairs writer for the London Standard, where he was known as a conservative journalist. Foreign politics was one of Austin's major interests. He had a special enthusiasm fo..
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