NOYES, Alfred

Born: September 16, 1880, in Wolverhampton, England

Died: June 23, 1958, on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom

Alfred Noyes was the eldest son of Alfred and Amelia Noyes. His father was a grocer, and later, a teacher, and his mother was an invalid who never recovered from childbearing.

Noyes spent a happy childhood with his family and received his first education from his father. He later attended Queen's College, Oxford but did not attain a degree. While at university, he was physically active and was a dedicated and enthusiastic rower.

His first poem was published when he was still a student and only twenty-one years old. His first volume of verse was published in 1902 under the name The Loom Years.

In 1907, Noyes married an American woman, Garnett Daniels. A year later, he completed his epic poem, Drake which served to further enhance his reputation as a poet. His work was not without criticism, however, and he came under close public scrutiny for his condemnation of an Irish patriot, Roger Caseman who was convicted of treason.

He and his wife moved to the United States and lived in New Jersey, New York and California. While in the States, he received several honorary doctorates from universities including Yale, Syracuse, California and Edinburgh. In 1913, Noyes was invited to lecture at Harvard where he taught, among others, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edmund Wilson. In 1914, he was given a three year appointment at Princeton.

After nineteen years of marriage, Noyes' wife died. A year later, he became a Catholic and his writing began to reflect his interest in spirituality and religion. It was at this time he published his trilogy, The Torch-Bearers, which included The Watchers of the Sky, The Book of Earth, and The Last Voyage.

In 1927, Noyes married Mary Angela Mayne Weld- Blundel. Together they had three children. It is an indication of Noyes' success as a writer that he was able to support his family on the money he earned from writing poetry.

One of his most noted poems is Highwayman. It was criticized by some as being anti-modern but it has an enduring appeal. The poem's use of strong images and a repeating verse structure create an overwhelmingly hypnotic effect.