William Empson

(3933 words)
  • Matthew Bevis (Oxford University)

William Empson, poet and critic, was born on 27 September 1906 at Yokefleet Hall in Howden, Yorkshire. He was the youngest of five children of Arthur Reginald Empson (landowner and squire) and his wife Laura. Empson later looked back on the “romantic charm” of the estate where he was brought up and his comments on it demonstrate three qualities that were characteristic of him: candour, wit, and an awareness of his own diverse sympathies: “I was terribly shy about this [estate] as a young man. Like any other poet around 1930, I could tell the family I was a socialist and disapproved of land-owning, but I felt it would be horrible bad taste to tell anybody else about Yokefleet, though I was secretly proud of it and thought it was …

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Bevis, Matthew. "William Empson". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 20 February 2004
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=1427, accessed 26 September 2016.]