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John Clare
John Clare by William Hilton,oil on canvas, 1820
John Clare by William Hilton,
oil on canvas, 1820
Born 13 July 1793
Helpston, Northamptonshire, England
Died 20 May 1864 (1864-05-21) (aged 70)
Northampton General Lunatic Asylum, Northampton, England
Genre Rural
Notable works Poems Descriptive of Rural Life and Scenery


John Clare (13 July 1793 – 20 May 1864) was an English poet, the son of a farm labourer, who became known for his celebrations of the English countryside and sorrows at its disruption. His poetry underwent major re-evaluation in the late 20th century: he is now often seen as one of the important 19th-century poets. His biographer Jonathan Bate states that Clare was "the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature and of a rural childhood." Though in his day his success was limited, not helped by his losing struggle with mental illness.


He died on 20 May 1864, in his 71st year. His remains were returned to Helpston for burial in St Botolph’s churchyard. Today, children at the John Clare School, Helpston's primary, parade through the village and place their "midsummer cushions" (flowers and other decorations worked into a small square of turf) around Clare's gravestone (which bears the inscriptions "To the Memory of John Clare The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet" and "A Poet is Born not Made") on his birthday, in honour of their most famous resident.

John Clare Cottage

The thatched cottage where Clare was born was bought by the John Clare Trust in 2005. In May 2007 the Trust gained £1.27 million of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to create a new landscape design and Visitor Centre, including a cafe, shop and exhibition space. The Cottage at 12 Woodgate, Helpston, has been restored using traditional building methods and is open to the public.

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