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Robert Hawker

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About Robert Hawker

The Reverend Robert Stephen Hawker was born in Plymouth in 1803. After leaving school he was apprenticed to a lawyer but later decided the law was not for him. Instead, paid for by his aunt, he continued his education at Cheltenham Grammar School where his love of poetry was fostered to the extent that he was able to publish a small book of poems in 1821. His initial verses had no significant literary value, and the young man continued with his education at Pembroke College, Oxford.

It was whilst at Pembroke that Robert Hawker met and married a Cornish woman twenty years his senior. In spite of his married state, Robert Hawker continued with his student life at Oxford and in 1827 he won the Newdigate prize for poetry.

He attained his degree, and followed this by taking Holy Orders. He is perhaps best remembered as the eccentric poet-vicar of Morwenstow, the parish to which he was appointed in 1834. He was passionate about his parish and spent much of his time restoring the church, the vicarage, and he established a school. He threw himself actively into life as pastor of a sea-faring community, helping sailors and those left bereaved by the ravages of the sea. He was fearless in his sermons, preaching out against the wreckers in his parish. All through his life he continued to write poetry, one of his best loved being "Song of the Western Men" he also wrote many essays, and he studied Cornish history and folklore.

After a long and happy marriage his wife Charlotte died in 1863. Robert became a sad man, he missed the companionship of his wife, and shortly afterwards he met a Polish lady called Pauline Kuczynski, who he married in 1864. Together Robert and Pauline had three daughters.

His romantic soul kept him writing, and his generous nature kept him poor. He is remembered for works such as Ballard of Trelawney and Quest of the San Graal. Interestingly, Robert Hawker, although Anglican had always held strong Catholic beliefs and shortly before he died in 1875 he was received into the Catholic Church.

A path leads from Morwenstow church to the hut used by Robert Hawker as a study. Here he wrote both his famous poetry and his awesome sermons denouncing smugglers for the plundering of ships wrecked on the cliffs near the village.

Other famous people alive at the time of Robert Hawker

Sir Joseph BanksBorn 13th February 1743, died 19th June 1820 aged 77
Arnold BennettBorn 27th May 1867, died 27th March 1931 aged 63
Thomas BewickBorn August 1753, died 8th November 1828 aged 75
William BlakeBorn 28th November 1757, died 12th August 1827 aged 69
Sir Richard Francis BurtonBorn 19th March 1821, died 20th October 1890 aged 69
George CanningBorn 11th April 1770, died 8th August 1827 aged 57
Charles John CanningBorn 14th December 1812, died 17th June 1862 aged 49
Henry CavendishBorn 10th October 1731, died 24th February 1810 aged 78
Sir Winston ChurchillBorn 1874, died 1965 aged 91
Frederick DeliusBorn 29th January 1862, died 10th June 1934 aged 72
Edward ElgarBorn 2nd June 1857, died 23rd February 1934 aged 76
Elizabeth GaskellBorn 29th September 1810, died 12th November 1865 aged 55
Lillie LangtryBorn 13th October 1853, died 12th February 1929 aged 75
Robert OwenBorn 14th May 1771, died 17th November 1858 aged 87
John PeelBorn 1776, died 1854 aged 78
Robert PeelBorn 5th February 1788, died 2nd July 1850 aged 62
Joseph PriestleyBorn 13th March 1733, died 8th February 1804 aged 70
Humphry ReptonBorn 21st April 1752, died 24th March 1818 aged 65
Peter Mark RogetBorn 18th January 1779, died 12th September 1869 aged 90
Queen VictoriaBorn 24th May 1819, died 22nd January 1901 aged 81

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