Thomas Gordon Hake Biography

Thomas Gordon Hake (10 March 1809 - 11 January 1895), English poet, was born at Leeds, of an old Devon family. His mother was a Gordon of the Huntly branch. He studied medicine at St George's hospital and at Edinburgh and Glasgow, but had given up practice for many years before his death and had devoted himself to a literary life. In 1839, he published a prose epic Vales, republished in Ainsworth's magazine as Valdarno, which attracted the attention of DG Rossetti.

In after years, he became an intimate member of the circle of friends and followers gathered round Rossetti, who so far departed from his usual custom as to review Hake's poems in the Academy and Fortnightly Review. In 1871, he published Madeline; in 1872, Parables and Tales; in 1883, The Serpent Play; in 1890, New Day Sonnets; and, in 1892, his Memoirs of Eighty Years.

Dr Hake's works had much subtlety and felicity of expression, and were warmly appreciated in a somewhat restricted literary circle. In his last published verse, the sonnets, he shows an advance in facility on the occasional harshness of his earlier work. He was given a Civil List literary pension in 1893.

He saw much value in the use of snuff, which (he wrote to a critic of his habit), "not only wakes up that torpor so prevalent between the nose and the brain, making the wings of an idea uncurl like those of a newborn butterfly, but while others sneeze and run at the eyes my scheiderian membrane is impervious to the weather or, to be more explicit, I never take a cold in the head."

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