Landor, Walter Savage (1775-1864)

Writer and poet much admired by his literary colleagues, particularly Robert Southey (1774-1843) and connected with key figures in both British and Hispanic 19th century societies.  As a youth, he abandoned his university studies due to his fervent support of the French Revolution and later Bonaparte to whom he dedicated his poem ‘Gebir’ (1796-98), already on a Hispanic theme. Disillusioned by Napoleon’s seizure of absolute power in 1802, he became an acid critic of the French regime. At the age of 33, with little knowledge of Spanish language and no military experience, he ran off to join the Spanish Patriots in August 1808. As a result, he beat Lord Byron to become the first British writer to exchange the pen for the sword in a foreign cause. He was awarded the rank of colonel in the Spanish Army (14 November 1808). Upon his return to England, Landor bitterly opposed the Convention of Cintra and wrote of his wartime experiences in Three Letters to Don Francisco Riquelme (1809).  He later produced an Iberian Moorish tragedy called Count Julian (1812) which enjoyed some success in literary circles.

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Sources (indicative): G. Iglesias-Rogers, British Liberators in the Age of Napoleon: Volunteering under the Spanish Army in the Peninsular War (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014), 2, 14, 17, 27-8, 99-102; Titus Bicknell, “Calamus Ense Potentior Est: Walter Savage Landor’s Poetic War of Words.”  Romanticism on the Net  4 (November 1996);  Forster, John Forster, ed.  The Works and Life of Walter Savage Landor.  London: Chapman and Hall, 1876. 8 vols..

Posted by: Karen Racine and Graciela Iglesias-Rogers

How to cite:  To cite from this page, please use any style (Chicago, Harvard, etc). Our preferred citation form is: Karen Racine and Graciela Iglesias-Rogers, ‘Landor, Walter Savage (1775-1864)’, The Hispanic-Anglosphere: transnational networks, global communities (late 18th to early 20th centuries), project funded by the AHRC and University of Winchester in partnership with the National Trust, [https://hispanic-anglosphere.com/individuals/landor-walter-savage-1775-1864; accessed – please add date].

Thematic categories: 

The Arts ; War and the Military