Last revised 14 December 2001
- Clark S. Northup, A Bibliography of Thomas Gray (New
Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1917; facsim. reprint, New York: Russell
& Russell, 1970).
- Herbert W. Starr, A Bibliography of Thomas Gray,
1917-1951 (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 1953;
facsim. reprint, New York: Kraus Reprint, 1969).
- Alan T. McKenzie, Thomas Gray: A Reference Guide
(Boston: G. K. Hall, 1982).
- Donald C. Mell, Jr., "Thomas Gray 1716-71," in his English
Poetry, 1660-1800: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit:
Gale Research, 1982), pp. 238-51.
- Wallace Jackson, "Thomas Gray (26 December 1716 - 30 July
1771)," in Eighteenth-Century British Poets, Second
Series, ed. John Sitter (Detroit, London: Gale Research, 1999),
- Poetic Commonplace Books and Manuscripts of Thomas Gray,
1716-1771, from Pembroke College, Cambridge (Reading: Adam
Matthew Publications, 1991
microfilm reels plus a guide.
- Margaret Smith, Index of English Literary Manuscripts.
Vol. 3, 1700-1800, part 2, John Gay-Ambrose Phillips (London
and New York: Mansell, 1989).
- The Complete Poems of Thomas Gray: English, Latin and
Greek, ed. Herbert W. Starr and J. R. Hendrickson (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1966; reprinted, 1972). Definitive texts, with
- The Poems of Thomas Gray, William Collins, Oliver
Goldsmith, ed. Roger Lonsdale, Longmans' Annotated English
Poets (London: Longmans, Green, 1969). Slightly modernized texts,
with fine headnotes and highly literate footnotes.
- An Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College (London:
R. Dodsley, 1747).
- A Collection of Poems: By Several Hands, vol. 2,
(London: R. Dodsley, 1748). Includes 3 Odes.
- An Elegy Wrote in a Country Church Yard (London: R.
- Designs by Mr. R. Bentley, for Six Poems by Mr. T.
Gray (London: R. Dodsley, 1753). The illustrations are
- Odes, by Mr. Gray (Strawberry-Hill: R. and J. Dodsley,
- Poems by Mr. Gray (London: J. Dodsley, 1768).
- Poems by Mr. Gray (Glasgow: Robert and Andrew Foulis,
- The Poems of Mr. Gray. To which are prefixed Memoirs of
his Life and Writings by W. Mason, M.A. (York: A. Ward,
- The Correspondence of Thomas Gray, 3 vols., ed. Paget
Toynbee and Leonard Whibley (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1935;
reprinted, with additions and corrections by Herbert W. Starr,
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971).
- R. W. Ketton-Kremer, "The Poet Who Spoke Out: The Letters of
Thomas Gray," in The Familiar Letter in the Eighteenth
Century, ed. Howard Anderson, Irvin Ehrenpreis, and Philip
Daghlian (Lawrence: Univ. of Kansas Press, 1966). Surveys various
editions and classifies and appraises the five hundred surviving
- Horace Walpole's Correspondence with Thomas Gray, Richard
West and Thomas Ashton, ed. W. S. Lewis, George L. Lam and
Charles H. Bennett, The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's
Correspondence, vols. 13-14 (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1948).
- W. G. Roberts, "A Letter from Thomas Gray to Horace Walpole,"
Notes & Queries 47, no. 245 (2000): 198-201.
Authenticates letter dated 9 April, probably 1751,
to Walpole; another to Walpole is "unlikely" to be Gray's.
- See also Ian Jack, in Fearful Joy (1974), below under
Archives and Depositories
- The library of Pembroke College, Cambridge University holds
three volumes of Gray's Common Place Books, his "Pocket Books"
for 1755 and 1760, two miscellaneous boxes of materials, and
autograph notes for an oratorio version of The Bard. One
manuscript version of The Elegy is in the Common Place
Books; there are two others, one at Eton College and one in the
British Library. The Lewis Walpole Library (Yale University) in
Farmington, Conn., holds ten volumes of manuscript musical
transcriptions, chiefly of Italian composers. For a detailed
listing, see Margaret Smith, Index of English Literary
Manuscripts, above under Bibliographies.
- Robert L. Mack, Thomas Gray: A Life (New Haven: Yale
Univ. Press, 2000). Concerned with Gray's character and
personality, his formative activities and friendships, and his
career as poet.
- A. Lytton Sells and Iris Esther Robertson Sells, Thomas
Gray, His Life and Works (London: Allen & Unwin, 1980).
Wonders why Gray published so little; denies him a significant
place among the pre-romantics.
- Robert W. Ketton-Cremer, Thomas Gray: A Biography
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1955). Especially good on the
details of Gray's life at Cambridge and his relations with
Walpole; lingers over Bonstetten.
- Lord David Cecil, Two Quiet Lives: Dorothy Osborne, Thomas
Gray (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1948), pp. 106-256. Gray's
academic and artistic temperaments combined nicely with his
- Alastair Macdonald, "Thomas Gray: An Uncommitted Life,"
The [Canadian] Humanities Association Bulletin 13 (1963):
13-25. On the privacies, scholarship, humor, and silences in that
- Wallace Jackson, "Thomas Gray," Dictionary of Literary
Biography, Volume One Hundred Nine: Eighteenth-Century British
Poets, ed. John Sitter (Detroit: Bruccoli Clark Layman,
1991), pp. 168-82.
- Albert S. Cook, Concordance to the English Poems of Thomas
Gray (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1908; facsim. reprint,
Folcroft, PA: Folcroft Library Editions, 1974).
- Harold Bloom, ed., Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a
Country Churchyard," Modern Critical Interpretations (New
York: Chelsea House, 1987). Reprints nine essays (without
footnotes) 1965-85, with brief appraisal of the poem, attention
to Gray's precursors.
- Harold Bloom, ed., Poets of Sensibility and the
Sublime, Modern Critical Views (New York: Chelsea House,
1986). Reprints essays by Fry (1980), Sacks (1985), and Mileur
- W. B. Hutchings and William Ruddick, eds., Thomas Gray:
Contemporary Essays, Liverpool English Texts and Studies
(Liverpool: Liverpool Univ. Press, 1993). Includes:
- Bernard Beatty, "Unheard Voices, Indistinct Visions: Gray and
Byron," pp. 224-47. Seeks the "ground of connection" between Gray
and Byron; while their "differences are huge" Byron is drawn to
and his poetry influenced by Gray's sentiment and his diction.
- Angus Easson, "'A Man of Genius': Gray and Wordsworth," pp.
205-23. Wordsworth owes more to Gray than his critique of the
- David Fairer, "Thomas Warton, Thomas Gray, and the Recovery
of the Past," pp. 146-70. To oppose some ideas of
"preromanticism," argues that Warton is not influenced by the
past but absorbs it and recovers it, whereas Gray sees
discontinuities with it.
- Malcolm Hicks, "Gray among the Victorians," pp. 248-69. The
Victorians' opinion was more comprehensive than Arnold's remark
on Gray's not speaking out: includes a wide range of poets,
writers, and Gray scholars.
- W. B. Hutchings, "Thomas Gray: Past Criticism and the Present
Volume," pp. 1-12.
- Anne McDermott, "The 'Wonderful Wonder of Wonders': Gray's
Odes and Johnson's Criticism," pp. 188-204. Johnson's differences
with Gray's poetry focus on the nature of the language of poetry.
- Vincent Newey, "The Selving of Thomas Gray," pp. 13-38. In
his "quest for identity" in the Elegy Gray "wishes to be
seen as an exemplary . . . figure," but "could not
break . . . the constant cycle of making and unmaking
the self." Also in his Centring the Self: Subjectivity,
Society and Reading from Thomas Gray to Thomas Hardy
(Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995), pp. 1-18.
- William Ruddick, "Thomas Gray's Travel Writing," pp. 126-45.
The development from early travel descriptions to Gray's late
trips to the Lakes, where he combined sublime and picturesque
styles and thus became "one of the first significant British
- Richard Terry, "Gray and Poetic Diction," pp. 73-110. History
of poetic diction and examination of the diction in several
- Paul Whiteley, "Gray, Akenside and the Ode," pp. 171-87. The
differences between the two poets.
- Paul Williamson, "Gray's Elegy and the Logic of Expression,"
pp. 39-72. Sees the original version of the Elegy as
Christian, the final version as classical, logical,
non-Christian, without resurrection, in relation to graveyard
poetry and Virgil.
- Fearful Joy: Papers from the Thomas Gray Bicentenary
Conference at Carleton Univ., ed. James Downey and Ben Jones
(Montreal: McGill-Queen's Univ. Press, 1974). A fine collection,
containing such very important essays as:
- Jean Hagstrum, "Gray's Sensibility," pp. 6-19.
- Ian Jack, "Gray in his Letters," pp. 20-36.
- Roger Lonsdale, "Gray and Johnson: The Biographical Problem,"
- James Steele, "Thomas Gray and the Season for Triumph," pp.
- Clarence Tracy, "Melancholy Marked Him for Her Own," pp.
- George Whalley, "Thomas Gray: A Quiet Hellenist," pp. 146-71.
- Herbert W. Starr, ed., Twentieth Century Interpretations
of Gray's Elegy: A Collection of Critical Essays (Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1968). Reprints 12 good essays,
including those listed below by Brooks (1947), and Ellis (1951),
and Jack (1965).
General, after 1950
- George E. Haggerty, "'What Is This Secret Sin?' Sexuality and
Secrecy in the Writings of Horace Walpole," in Passionate
Encounters in a Time of Sensibility, ed. Maximillian E. Novak
and Anne Mellor (Newark: Delaware Univ. Press; London: Associated
Univ. Presses, 2000), pp. 127-49. Defines an idea of love with
examples from Gray's "love letters" to Walpole.
- Heidi Thomson, "The Poet and the Publisher in Thomas Gray's
Correspondence," Yearbook of English Studies 28 (1998):
163-80. To counter the impression that Gray shunned publication,
finds evidence in the correspondence that he "dearly loved to be
read," "controlled most publication decisions," and though
difficult with publishers, was involved at every step in
publication of his poems.
- Ian Britain, "From the Sublime to the Pastoral: Thomas Gray
and the Domestication of the Gothic in English Ideas of
Landscape," in History on the Edge: Essays in Memory of John
Foster (1944-1994), ed. Mark Baker (Melbourne: Univ. of
Melbourne Press, 1997), pp. 9-43. In the context of "shifting
ideas about the relationship between Gothic architectural styles
and English places," carefully surveys the "domestication" of
Gothic with emphasis on the images of Eton in Gray's ode.
- Robert F. Gleckner, Gray Agonistes: Thomas Gray and
Masculine Friendship (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press,
1997). Within the "powerful and moving coherence" of his
"brilliant poetic . . . strategies," Gray explores two
narratives: the pressure of Milton's achievement, and his own
involvement with Richard West, both concerns discernible in
silence or encoded language what Gray does not
- George E. Haggerty, "'O Lachrymarum Fons': Tears, Poetry, and
Desire in Gray," Eighteenth Century Studies, 30 (1996):
81-95. Gray fashions his "male-male desire" within the
melancholic framework the culture provides.
- Jerome McGann, "Thomas Gray's 'Thoughts, that Breathe, and
Words, that Burn,'" in his The Poetics of Sensibility: A
Revolution in Literary Style (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996),
pp. 24-32. "De Principiis" was the "model for literature of
sensibility" with its emphasis on the tactile, central to Gray's
- William Levine, "'Beyond the Limits of a Vulgar Fate': The
Renegotiation of Public and Private Concerns in the Careers of
Gray and Other Mid-Eighteenth-Century Poets," Studies in
Eighteenth-Century Culture 24 (1995): 223-42. Gray (and other
"poets of sensibility," like Smart) sought "to uphold a purified
notion" of poetry, a "socially responsive basis of poetic power,"
and a "correspondence of poetic form to social function."
- Felicity Rosslyn, "Good Humour and the Agelasts: Horace, Pope
and Gray," in Horace Made New: Horatian Influences on British
Writing from the Renaissance to the Twentieth Century, ed.
Charles Martindale and David Hopkins (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ.
Press, 1993), pp. 184-98. An "agelast" is one who separates humor
from seriousness; prefers Johnson's verdict that Gray's cat ode
is a mere trifle and The Bard a humorless failure at
- Linda Zionkowski, "Gray, the Marketplace, and the Masculine
Poet," Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature & the
Arts 35 (1993): 589-608. As the book trade compromised poets'
"authority and masculinity," Gray's career "illustrates these
. . . tensions" as he attempted "to resist
. . . sexual and economic models of authorship."
- Raymond Bentman, "Thomas Gray and the Poetry of 'Hopeless
Love,'" Journal of the History of Sexuality 3 (1992):
203-22. Gray's attachment to West, contemporaneous reaction to
sodomy, and evidence in the poems of Gray's love, and fear about
- Rodney S. Edgecombe, Wonted Fires: A Reading of Thomas
Gray, Salzburg Studies in English Literature, Romantic
Reassessment, 111 (Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellon Press; Salzburg:
Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 1992). Gray's
early poems are Augustan Gray stands "at a point of
transition of major poetic trends," with the two versions of the
Elegy pointing either to Pope or Wordsworth, and the odes
"rendering the sublime."
- William Epstein, "Professing Gray: The Resumption of
Authority in Eighteenth-Century Studies," in The Profession of
Eighteenth-Century Literature: Reflections on an Institution,
ed. Leopold Damrosch and Marshall Brown (Madison: Univ. of
Wisconsin Press, 1992), pp. 84-94. Critics "repossess" texts
(authors, genres, etc.) from other critics and position ourselves
by not appearing to do so; our critical "gestures" are tactics by
which we "authorize" our interpretations.
- Suvir Kaul, Thomas Gray and Literary Authority: A Study in
Ideology and Poetics (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1992).
Gray's poems "reproduce, and also produce, the socio-cultural and
literary practices of their day"; they reflect "contradictory
vocational attractions between public and private" and witness
"the poet's need for appropriate social, political and
ideological positions" by which to establish "poetic and cultural
- S. H. Clark, "'Pendet Homo Incertus': Gray's Response to
Locke, I: 'Dull in a New Way' & II: 'De Principiis
Cogitandi,'" Eighteenth-Century Studies 24 (1991):
273-91; 484-503. An extended two-part examination of Gray's major
poems, which are rather passive in the face of Locke, whereas in
the freer Latin poems and "De Principiis" Gray rises to the
challenge of the Lockean inheritance.
- Linda Zionkowski, "Bridging the Gulf Between: The Poet and
the Audience in the Work of Gray," ELH 58 (1991): 331-50.
Gray's reluctance to publish was not due to shyness but to
"discomfort with the contemporary system of literature," anxiety
about the poet's function in a time of "commodified texts," and
"pessimism about the future of literature" and loss of intimate
- B. Eugene McCarthy, Thomas Gray: The Progress of a
Poet (Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press; London:
Associated Univ. Presses, 1997). On the composition of the poems,
with special attention to prosody, in the context of Gray's
biography, correspondence, notebooks, and study, to reveal the
coherent development of his career; chapters on translations,
early poems, the Elegy, odes, and final poems.
- Martin Price, "Sacred to Secular: Thomas Gray and the
Cultivation of the Literary," in Context, Influence, and
Mid-Eighteenth-Century Poetry, ed. Maximillian E. Novak. (Los
Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 1990), pp.
41-78. Traces Gray's search for a new language, from diction
which reflects the Augustans to a "primitivism" in the Pindarics
which is "beyond Christianity, classical myth, or history."
- W. B. Carnochan, "The Continuity of Eighteenth-Century
Poetry: Gray, Cowper, Crabbe, and the Augustans,"
Eighteenth-Century Life 12 (1988): 119-27. To avoid
divisions of the eighteenth century into Augustan and Later,
suggests continuities: Gray with Augustans (satire, etc.), Cowper
- Wallace Jackson, "Thomas Gray and the Dedicatory Muse,"
ELH 54 (1987): 277-98. Gray is "the most disappointing
poet" of the century because "he could not fully serve the muse
of his own dedication"; and though the poets of the Elegy
and The Bard are "antithetical voices," in the last poems
Gray reaches a point "beyond which his vision does not go."
- Wallace Jackson, "Thomas Gray: Drowning in Human Voices,"
Criticism: A Quarterly for Literature & the Arts 28
(1986): 361-77. In the face of many analyses of Gray's "two
voices," places Gray's poetry as "progress pieces" in the "logic
of Poesy's westward movement," but which often looked backward to
what was closed, thus a progress Gray largely evades.
- Margaret Anne Doody, The Daring Muse: Augustan Poetry
Reconsidered (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985).
Treatment of Gray's poems passim, e.g., in the Elegy death
is a "move to oblivion."
- Jean-Pierre Mileur, Literary Revisionism and the Burden of
Modernity (Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1985), pp.
197-211; reprinted in Bloom (1986), pp. 125-36, and Bloom (1987),
pp. 119-30. Gray is said to question the permanence of poetry and
poetic fame; The Bard is "allegory of originality as
disaster," his "Progress" "fails," his verse is "pedantic rather
- Fredric V. Bogel, Literature and Insubstantiality in Later
Eighteenth-Century England (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press,
1984). Passim references to Gray's relation to past, "human need
for images of the past," in, e.g., The Bard.
- Paul H. Fry, "Thomas Gray's Feather'd Cincture," in his
The Poet's Calling in the English Ode (New Haven: Yale
Univ. Press, 1980), pp. 63-96. The textuality of the odes is an
emblem of the isolation and alienation of the poet.
- Patricia M. Spacks, "Thomas Gray: Action and Image," in
The Poetry of Vision: Five Eighteenth-Century Poets
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1967), pp. 90-118. Close
reading for artifice, distancing rhetoric, and the role of the
- Morris Golden, Thomas Gray, Twayne's English Authors
Series, No. 6 (New York: Twayne, 1964; "updated edition," 1988).
A good general introduction.
- Francis Doherty, "The Two Voices of Gray," Essays in
Criticism 13 (July 1963): 222-30. The public voice is
scholarly and excessively refined; the personal genteel and sad.
- Geoffrey Tillotson, "More About Poetic Diction," in his
Augustan Studies (London: Athlone, 1961), pp. 46-110.
Demonstrates the cleverness and learning in Gray's diction and
- Jean Hagstrum, "Thomas Gray," in The Sister Arts: The
Tradition of Literary Pictorialism and English Poetry from Dryden
to Gray (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1958), pp. 287-314.
Visual details in the Elegy and The Bard evoke the
themes and images of earlier Roman and Bolognese painters.
- Norman Maclean, "From Action to Image: Theories of the Lyric
in the Eighteenth Century," in Critics and Criticism: Ancient
and Modern, ed. R. S. Crane (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago
Press, 1958), pp. 408-60. Critical analysis of several odes;
The Bard is both traditional and an utterance of the
- George E. Haggerty, "Desire and Mourning: The Ideology of the
Elegy," in Ideology and Form in Eighteenth-Century
Literature, ed. David H. Richter (Lubbock: Texas Tech Univ.
Press, 1999), pp. 185-206. Examines the complex problems of
mourning; in the Elegy the promised elegiac consolation is
only of "loss and repression."
- Lorna Clymer, "Graved in Tropes: The Figural Logic of
Epitaphs and Elegies in Blair, Gray, Cowper, and Wordsworth,"
ELH 62 (1995): 347-86. The Elegy "follows the
conventions of the epitaph" from the opening where the narrator
speaks of himself in the second person to the end, where the
reader is "written into the very epitaph he now reads."
- R. J. Ellis, "Plodding Plowmen: Issues of Labour and Literacy
in Gray's 'Elegy,'" in The Independent Spirit: John Clare and
the Self-Taught Tradition, ed. John Goodridge (Helpston,
U.K.: John Clare Society & the Margaret Grainger Memorial
Trust, 1994), pp. 27-43. Examines possible identity of "thee,"
sees historical context as encroachment of enclosure acts (note
weary farmers) and social movement out of illiteracy ("thou
- Adam Potkay, "Gray's Elegy: Between Civic Applause and
the Cool Vale," in The Fate of Eloquence in the Age of
Hume (Ithaca and London: Cornell Univ. Press, 1994), pp.
134-42. Gray seems not concerned to revivify past eloquence.
- Antonio Illiano, "From Gray's Elegy to Foscolo's
Carne: Highlighting the Mediation and Sublimation of the
'Sepulchral,'" Symposium: A Quarterly Journal in Modern
Foreign Literatures 47 (1993): 117-31. Among
eighteenth-century translators of the Elegy the best,
Cesarotti, mediates the poem into a "new literary climate," a
process culminating in Foscolo's Dei Sepolcri (1807).
- George E. Haggerty, "'The Voice of Nature' in Gray's
Elegy," in Homosexuality in Renaissance and
Enlightenment England: Literary Representations in Historical
Context, ed. Claude J. Summers (New York: Haworth Press,
1992), 199-214. The poet is aware of his homosexuality in the
poem and at the end inscribes "his gay identity" in the epitaph.
- Andrew Dillon, "Depression and Release: The Journey of the
Spirit in Thomas Gray's 'Elegy,'" North Dakota Quarterly
60 (1992): 128-34. The Elegy as "symbolic
- William Epstein, "Assumed Identities: Gray's Correspondence
and the 'Intelligence Communities' of Eighteenth-Century
Studies," The Eighteenth Century: Theory &
Interpretation 32 (1991): 274-88. Finds a correspondence
between the "trope of counter-intelligence in cold-war criticism"
and Gray's "under cover" correspondence with Walpole.
- Peter Huhn, "Outwitting Self-Consciousness: Self-Reference
and Paradox in Three Romantic Poems," English Studies 72
(1991): 230-45. Though self-analysis ("motivating features of
English Romantic poetry") does not in the Elegy cause
"sterility," the self is self-centered, self-conscious, and
- Henry Weinfield, The Poet without a Name: Gray's Elegy and
the Problem of History (Carbondale: Southern Illinois Univ.
Press, 1991). The "problem of history" is the "double or circular
metaphor" of the "utopian impulse toward perfection" reflected in
pastoral; the Elegy represents "symbolic dissolution of
the pastoral." Two chapters examine the problem of evaluation and
interpretation, chapter three provides a reading of the poem, the
last two discuss the dissolution of pastoral and Wordsworth's
reconstitution of it.
- Richard C. Sha, "Gray's Political Elegy: Poetry as the
Burial of History," Philological Quarterly 69 (1990):
337-57. Raises issues about "the poor" that Gray does not raise:
such as charity, education, and leisure.
- Torsten Pettersson, Literary Interpretation: Current
Models and a New Departure (Turku: Abo Akad., 1988). Tests
the "acceptability" of four interpretations of the Elegy:
Lonsdale (1973), Weinbrot (1978), Logsdon (1973), and Wright
- Stephen Bygrave, "Gray's 'Elegy': Inscribing the Twilight,"
in Post-Structuralist Readings of English Poetry, ed.
Richard Machin and Christopher Norris (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ.
Press, 1987), pp. 162-75. Reads the Elegy as filled with
discrete tensions, problems, displacements, uncertainties, and
the poet's inability.
- Peter Sacks, The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from
Spencer to Yeats (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press,
1985), pp. 133-37. The poet mourns his own death as well as that
of villagers; Gray's "superb accomplishment" is "contriving an
action within the poem in which the epitaph is actually to
be read." Also in Bloom (1986), pp. 119-23 and (1987), pp.
- W. B. Hutchings, "Syntax of Death: Instability in Gray's
'Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,'" Studies in
Philology 81 (1984): 496-514. The "extraordinary degree of
instability" in the syntax of the poem is the key to its meaning:
the "subject [poet] dissolves into an object [of contemplation]"
to create an audience who will continue the poet's life after his
"death." Also in Bloom (1987), pp. 83-99.
- Virgil Nemoianu, "Societal Models as Substitute Reality in
Literature," Poetics Today 5 (1984): 275-97. What is the
relationship "between reality and its simplified representations"
such as the world without extremes depicted in the Elegy?
- Anne Williams, Prophetic Strain: The Greater Lyric in the
Eighteenth Century (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1984).
Recognizes "movements of a particularized and precisely located
consciousness" in the Elegy. There are three poems: a
graveyard meditation, a reflection on the desire to be
remembered, an elegy proper: all conclude with the epitaph. Also
in Bloom (1987), pp. 101-17.
- Howard D. Weinbrot, "Gray's Elegy: A Poem of Moral
Choice and Resolution," Studies in English Literature, 18
(1978): 537-51. The choice is of eternity.
- George T. Wright, "Stillness and the Argument of Gray's
Elegy," Modern Philology 74 (1977): 381-89.
Grammatical devices in the poem explore "stillness," proving that
"epitaphs are superfluous."
- Alistair MacDonald, ed., Thomas Gray: An Elegy Wrote in a
Country Church Yard, The Eton Manuscript & The First
Edition (Ilkey, Yorkshire: Scolar Press). The Introduction
describes the manuscripts and printed text in detail; includes a
transcription and facsimile.
- Richard Logsdon, "Gray's 'Elegy': The Structure and the
Poet," Essays in Literature 2 (1973): 1-19. The poet's
mind moves "from an emotional affinity with the dead to an
imagined union with them."
- Roger Lonsdale, "The Poetry of Thomas Gray: Versions of
Self," Chatterton Lecture on an English Poet, Proceedings of
the British Academy 59 (1973): 105-23. Excessive sensibility
and self-absorption may be being called into question.
- Frank Brady, "Structure and Meaning in Gray's Elegy,"
in From Sensibility to Romanticism: Essays Presented to
Frederick A. Pottle, ed. Frederick W. Hilles and Harold Bloom
(New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1965), pp. 177-189. Contrasting
views of the narrator.
- Bertrand H. Bronson, "On a Special Decorum in Gray's Elegy,"
in From Sensibility to Romanticism (above), pp. 171-76. A
close paraphrase, attentive to the egocentricity.
- Ian Jack, "Gray's Elegy Reconsidered," in From
Sensibility to Romanticism (above), pp. 139-69. Considers the
spontaneity, the meter, the stanza, and the personifications;
doubts the biographical connections.
- Frank H. Ellis, "Gray's Elegy: The Biographical
Problem in Literary Criticism," PMLA 66 (December 1951):
971-1008. Biographical interpretation, positing the presence of a
- F. W. Bateson, "Gray's Elegy Reconsidered," in his
English Poetry: A Critical Introduction (London: Longmans,
Green, 1950), pp. 181-93. Prefers the early version, dismissing
the later 56 lines as irrelevant and conventional.
- Francis Stokes, ed., An Elegy Written in a Country Church
Yard by Thomas Gray (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929). Careful
review of the composition, manuscripts, publication, and early
editions, transcribing the manuscripts.
- Paul Odney, "Thomas Gray's 'Daring Spirit': Forging the
Poetics of an Alternative Nationalism," CLIO 28 (1999):
245-60. Gray's two odes contrast classical and native traditions,
weaving "myth and history" to show an "alternative nationalism."
- Frederick N. Keener, "Gray's Pindaric Odes and the
Availability of Literary Interpretation in the Eighteenth
Century," Studies on Voltaire & the Eighteenth Century
304 (1992): 1101-04. What "in the way of interpreters and
interpretations of contemporary literature was available in
- Rodney S. Edgecombe, "Diction and Allusion in Two Early Odes
by Gray," Durham University Journal (1986): 31-36. Poetic
diction and allusion in "Spring" and Eton.
- Howard D. Weinbrot, "Gray's 'Progress of Poesy' and 'The
Bard': An Essay in Literary Transmission," in Johnson and His
Age, ed. James Engell (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press,
1984), pp. 311-32; also in his Britannia's Issue: the Rise of
British Literature from Dryden to Ossian (Cambridge:
Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993), pp. 384-401. Considers the odes as
sisters, "both original and traditional in almost any positive
sense"; along with earlier English writers' confident revision of
the past, Gray accommodates the Pindaric to British history and
- W. B. Hutchings, "Conversations with a Shadow: Thomas Gray's
Latin Poems to Richard West," Studies in Philology 92
(1995): 118-39. Latin, the "language of the dead," was Gray's
"most intimate form of communication with" West; a thorough
examination of the Latin poems with attention to sources,
especially Horace, and Gray's concern with audience, concluding
with "De Principiis" and English poems about West.
- Barry Baldwin, "On Some Greek and Latin Poems by Thomas
Gray," International Journal of the Classic Tradition 1
(1994): 71-88. Detailed evidence and analysis of Gray's borrowing
from classical sources.
- Deborah D. Rogers, "The Problem of Copy-Texts for Gray's
Epitaph on Mrs. Clerke," English Language Notes 26 (1988):
- Heidi Van de Veire, "A Note on Gray's 'Adversity,'" Notes
& Queries 37, no. 235 (1990): 309-12. The title differs
between "ode" and "hymn"; Gray preferred the former.
Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College
- Marshall Brown, "The Urbane Sublime," ELH 45 (1978):
236-54. The Eton ode has that "urbanity" and "discretion" which
mark the urban sublime; reprinted in Modern Essays in
Eighteenth Century Literature, ed. Leopold Damrosch, Jr.,
(Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1988), pp. 436-54.
"Sonnet on the Death of Richard West"
- Donald C. Mell, Jr., "Allusion and Elegiac Form in Thomas
Gray's Sonnet 'On the Death of Richard West,'" in his Poetics
of Augustan Elegy: Studies of Poems by Dryden, Pope, Prior,
Swift, Gray, and Johnson (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1974), pp.
63-76. The Miltonic context and complications in sources and tone
render the sonnet both a tribute and a consolation.
Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat
- Suvir Kaul, "Why Selima Drowns: Thomas Gray and the
Domestication of the Imperial Ideal," PMLA 105 (1990):
223-32; incorporated into his Thomas Gray and Literary
Authority (1992), pp. 165-85. Part of his century's "attack
on luxury," female desire is allied to Britain's imperial desire.
- Mark Lussier, "The Contra-Diction of Design: Blake's
Illustrations to Gray's 'Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat,'"
Visible Language 23 (1989): 205-19. Where Gray's words
"restrain desire," the designs "work to liberate desire." Blake
uncovers and reverses (in Lacanian terms) Gray's phallocentric
- Robert Pattison, "Gray's 'Ode on the Death of a Favourite
Cat': A Rationalist's Aesthetic," University of Toronto
Quarterly 49 (1979): 156-65. A study of its sources reveals
that the poem concerns itself with the workings of a Lockean
- Geoffrey Tillotson, "Gray's 'Ode on the Death of a Favourite
Cat . . .,'" in his Augustan Studies
(London: Athlone, 1961), pp. 216-23. On the mock-heroic elements
embedded in the poem, as well as Johnson's misreadings of it.
- Charles Hinnant, "Changing Perspectives on the Past: The
Reception of Thomas Gray's The Bard," Clio 3
(1974): 315-29. The poet's enthusiasm for the history of the
Tudors troubled Gray's contemporaries.
- Arthur Johnston, Thomas Gray and the Bard: An Inaugural
Lecture Delivered at the University College of Wales,
Aberystwyth, Wednesday, 2nd February, 1966 (Cardiff: Univ. of
Wales Press, 1966). Considers the poem's difficulties, fusions,
- B. Eugene McCarthy, "Gray's Music for 'The Bard,'" Review
of English Studies 189 (1997): 19-32. The manuscript of
Gray's oratorio version of the ode with directions for musical
forms and models (not notation).
- Giuseppe Galigani, Tra poesia e pittura: Il Bardo di
Thomas Gray e le arti figurative (Parma: Pratiche, 1995).
Source illustrations (e.g. Raphael), and works of Bentley, Blake,
de Louthenbourg, Martin, among others.
The Progress of Poesy
- Wallace Jackson and Paul Yoder, "Gray's Pindarics: Teaching
The Progress of Poesy," in Teaching Eighteenth-Century
Poetry, ed. Christopher Fox (New York: AMS Press, 1990), pp.
303-17. The poem concerns the "English place in European literary
history" and "the poet's place in England"; explicates "Progress"
and considers its place in Gray's career.
- William Levine, "From the Ridiculous to the Sublime: Gray's
Transvaluation of Pope's Poetics," Philological Quarterly
70 (1991): 289-309. The poem strongly echoes Pope's
Dunciad in order to "render acceptable answers to
virtually all . . . violations" of diction, genre, and
rhetoric that Pope cites.
Influential General Criticism to 1950
- William Mason, ed., The Poems of Mr. Gray, to which are
Prefixed Memoirs of his Life and Writings by W. Mason, M.A.
(York: A. Ward, 1775). Annotates the letters and comments on the
- Samuel Johnson, "Gray," Prefaces, Biographical and
Critical, to the Works of the English Poets, vol. 10 (London:
J. Nichols, 1781); reprinted as "Life of Thomas Gray," in
Lives of the English Poets, ed. George Birkbeck Hill
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905), 3:421-45. Blunt, unsympathetic,
and intelligent, thus still provocative.
- William Wordsworth, "Preface," Lyrical Ballads, with Other
Poems, 2nd ed. (London: Longman and Rees, 1800), 1:xxiv-xxv;
frequently reprinted. The diction in the "Sonnet on the Death of
Mr. Richard West" is too elaborate.
- John Mitford, "Essay on the Poetry of Gray," in his Poems
of Thomas Gray (London: White, Chochrane, 1814), pp.
cxi-clxxxiv. Good on Gray's method of composition and cadences;
dwells on The Bard.
- Robert Willmott, "Gray and Mason: A Summer Day with the
Muses," in his Conversations at Cambridge (London: John W.
Parker, 1836), pp. 160-218. An imaginary dialogue, which deserves
to be better known.
- Matthew Arnold, "Thomas Gray," in The English Poets:
Selections with Critical Introductions by Various Writers,
ed. Thomas Humphry Ward (London: Macmillan, 1880), 3:302-16;
frequently reprinted. Regrettably influential variations on the
phrase "he never spoke out."
- Leslie Stephen, "Hours in a Library: No. XXI Gray and
His School," Cornhill Magazine 40 (July, 1879): 70-91. The
poet is an isolated phenomenon; the man was never in harmony with
his surroundings at Cambridge.
- Edmund Gosse, Gray, English Men of Letters, ed. John
Morley (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1882). Sympathetic
glimpses of Gray's uneventful life.
- Odell Shepard, "A Youth to Fortune and to Fame Unknown,"
Modern Philology 20 (1923): 347-73. Reviews the evidence
for the identity of the "youth," deciding that he was Richard
- Amy L. Reed, The Background of Gray's Elegy: A Study in
the Taste for Melancholy poetry, 1700-1751, Columbia
University Studies in English & Comparative Literature, 35
(New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1924). Gray's melancholy is
ripe, lovely, and humane.
- John W. Draper, The Funeral Elegy and the Rise of English
Romanticism (New York: New York Univ. Press, 1929). Discusses
Gray's classicism and traces numerous aspects of the elegiac
- Roger Martin, Essai sur Thomas Gray (Paris: Les
Presses Univ. de France, 1934). Early psychological scrutiny of
Gray's inspiration and melancholy.
- William Powell Jones, Thomas Gray, Scholar: The True
Tragedy of an Eighteenth-Century Gentleman (Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard Univ. Press, 1937). Still essential for the studious
- Lord David Cecil, "The Poetry of Thomas Gray," Warton Lecture
on English Poetry, Proceedings of the British Academy 31
(1945): 43-60; reprinted several times. Bases the discussion on
Gray's complex, but disciplined, personality.
- Herbert W. Starr, "Gray's Craftsmanship," JEGP 45
(1946): 415-29. Detailed study of Gray's "painstaking" revisions.
- Cleanth Brooks, "Gray's Storied Urn," in his Well-Wrought
Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry (New York: Reynal and
Hitchcock, 1947), pp. 96-113. The allusions, paradoxes, and
ironic contrasts form the poem itself into the poet's storied
- Marion Roberts, "Thomas Gray's Contribution To the Study of
Medieval Architecture," Architectural History 36 (1993):
49-68. An important study of significance of Gray's impressive
knowledge and sophisticated means of analysis (with plates).
- Loftus Jestin, The Answer to the Lyre: Richard Bentley's
Illustrations for Thomas Gray's Poems (Philadelphia: Univ. of
Pennsylvania Press, 1990). A facsimile of Bentley's impressive
illustrations to six of Gray's poems (1753), with discussion of
Bentley's art, the sequence, disposition, and imagery in relation
to poems; 118 other prints are appended to illustrate Bentley's
work and the influence of others.
- Poems by Mr. Gray/Drawings by William Blake (London:
J. Murray, 1790; facsim. reprint London: Trianon Press, 1971).
116 stunning, but distracting, illustrations, most of specific
- William Blake and Thomas Gray, Blake's Water-Colours for
the Poems of Thomas Gray: With Complete Texts (Mineola, N.Y.:
Dover Publications, 2000). Color reproduction of Blake's 116
plates; no commentary.
- Frank A. Vaughan, Again to the Life of Eternity: William
Blake's Illustrations to the Poems of Thomas Gray
(Selinsgrove PA: Susquehanna Univ. Press, 1996; London:
Associated Univ. Presses, 1996). Reprints the illustrations in
black and white, with a historical and critical introduction and
discussion (139 pp.) of the thirteen poems.
- Masashi Suzuki, "'Dust Thou Art': The Moment of
Self-Portraiture in the Illustrations to Gray's Elegy,"
Shiron 37 (1998): 1-22. A well-informed examination of why
Blake drew the "Here Lieth William Blake" epitaph into his
illustration of the Elegy part joke, part serious.
- Richard E. Johnson, "Blake as Audience: The Designs to Gray's
'Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat,'" in Reconciliations:
Studies in Honor of Richard Harter Fogle, ed. Mary Lynn
Johnson and Seraphia D. Leyda (Salzburg: Institut für
Anglistik und Amerikanistik, 1983), pp. 72-94. Blake transplants
Gray's text into "fertile soil of his own designs" to create
"oppositions, or re-readings" but with friendly wit.
- David Mannings, "Jonathan Richardson, Thomas Gray, and the
Genealogy of Art," Journal of the History of Ideas 55
(1994): 405-20. On the principle of selection, and consequences
for art history, in lists of artists by Richardson and Gray.
- Occasional Memorandums: Being Extracts from a Journal for
the Year 1767 Now First Printed from the Original Manuscripts of
Thomas Gray, Introduction by Roger Senhouse (Stanford Dingly:
The Mill House Press, 1950). Transcription of a brief diary
recording travel expenses and observations of weather, flowers,
- W. Powell Jones, "Thomas Gray's Library," Modern
Philology 35 (1938): 257-78. Lists, from various sources, all
the books Gray is known to have owned.
- "Sale of the Library of Gray the Poet," Gentleman's
Magazine, n.s. 25 (1846): 29-33. An account of Gray's
reading, reprinting many of his annotations.
- Wilmarth S. Lewis, Collector's Progress (New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1951). Anecdotes from the life of the great
Walpole collector, mentioning many Gray items.
Gray's Influence on Other Writers
- Daniel E. White, "Autobiography and Elegy: The Early Romantic
Poetics of Thomas Gray and Charlotte Smith," in Early
Romantics: Perspectives in British Poetry from Pope to
Wordsworth, ed. Thomas Woodman (Basingstoke: Macmillan; New
York: St. Martin's, 1998), pp. 57-69. On Smith's "appropriation"
of Gray's "elegiac poetics"; whereas the "intertextual
relationship between literary production and lived experience" is
"encrypted" in Gray, it is explicit and "integral" in Smith.
- Molly Anne Rothenberg, "Blake Reads 'The Bard": Contextual
Displacement and Conditions of Readability," Studies in
English Literature 27 (1987): 489-502. Gray's "eagle"
signifies despair, Blake's "screaming eagle," liberation.
- Eric Gidal, "Wordsworth's Art of Memory," Studies in
Romanticism 37 (1998): 445-75. Wordsworth's use of the Eton
- Peter J. Manning, "Wordsworth and Gray's Sonnet on the Death
of West," Studies in English Literature 22 (1982): 505-18.
Reexamines the sonnet's diction and Wordsworth's poems (apart
from his criticism of Gray). Also in Reading Romantics, Texts
and Contexts (New York and Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1990),
- Wallace Jackson and Paul Yoder, "Wordsworth Reimagines Thomas
Gray: Notations on Begetting a Kindred Spirit," Criticism: A
Quarterly for Literature & the Arts 31 (1989): 287-300.
To resolve tension between public and private voices, Gray
explores the progress poem, a legacy Wordsworth deploys "as a
composite generic form."
- Rodney S. Edgecombe, "Gray, Hunt, Keats and the Idea of
Artistic Succession," Keats-Shelley Journal 44 (1995):
17-21. Keats's possible connection to Gray's poems.
- Graham Chesters, "A Political Reading of Baudelaire's
'L'artiste Inconnu' ('Le Guignon')," Modern Language
Review 79 (1984): 64-76. Baudelaire "plagiarized" from the
Elegy and other poems while reflecting on fame and
- D. S. Neff, "Phidias and the 'Runic Stone': Gray's 'Alcaic
Ode' and 'Stanzas from the Grande Chartreuse,'" Victorian
Poetry 35 (1997): 543-50. Arnold's use of Gray's poem.
- Dennis Taylor, "Thomas Hardy and Thomas Gray: The Poet's
Currency," ELH 65 (1998): 451-77. Gray's "aestheticism and
anxiety about public culture" were a "key" influence on Hardy's
rating his own verse over his novels.
- Roger Elliott, "The Bard as Moping Owl," The Cambridge
Quarterly 15 (1986): 207-15. Philip Larkin's "Church Going"
compared with the Elegy.
- See also, for Wordsworth, Easson, and, for Byron, Beatty, in
Hutchings (1993) above, in Criticism Collections.
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