Taylor, Henry (1800–1886)

Poet and civil servant. The son of the gentleman farmer and classicist George Taylor. Southey became acquainted with the Taylors in the early 1810s via his brother Tom, who lived near them in County Durham. Taylor joined the Colonial Office in 1824, eventually rising to be senior clerk for the Carribean colonies. He married Theodosia (1818–1891), daughter of the politican Thomas Spring Rice in 1839. Taylor was a successful civil servant, knighted for his service to the Colonial Office in 1869. He managed to combine his job with a literary career. His greatest success was the drama Philip Van Artevelde (1834), which contained a preface critiquing Byron and Shelley. Taylor and Southey were on excellent terms, and the latter encouraged the former’s literary ambitions, writing a favourable review of his Isaac Comnenus (1827). They toured Holland, France and Belgium in 1825 and 1826 and in the 1830s Southey appointed Taylor as his literary executor and official biographer. The family feud that erupted after Southey’s marriage to Caroline Bowles and that escalated after his death, made Taylor’s role impossible and he resigned from the task. Taylor’s Autobiography (1885) includes material on his friendship with Southey.

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