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William Brighty Rands – Biography

Below is a detailed biography about William Brighty Rands, an English poet from the Victorian era. He is best known for his nursery rhymes and congregational hymns. He is definitely one of the major writers of the Victorian era.

Early Life of William Brighty Rands

William was born in West London in the town of Chelsea, England on the 24th of December 1823. He came from a non-gentry and simple family of candlemakers. His father had a shop in Chelsea. He went to school for a short while until the age of 13 after which he is known to have self taught. 

A portrait of William Brighty Rands

He had a huge flair for learning and is known have mastered both Greek and Latin as a young teenage boy. He worked at several offices and warehouses. He is also known to have taken up acting for his interest as an experiment.

Soon, he started working with an international merchant when he also mastered French and Spanish. 

Career and Works

He is known for his appreciation and determination to learn new languages. In his later years, he also learnt Chinese. In the year 1857, he worked at the House of Commons as a reporter for Messrs and was loved by all there. He was often praised for being helpful and cheerful. During his free time from the Parliament responsibilities, he wrote his children books with rhymes and poems.

He also earned a vote of thanks from he committee. His job was fairly demanding and required travel and hence he soon gave it up.

Due to his poor health, he had to resign from the Parliament in the year 1875. He is known to be shy in nature which is evident by his pseudonyms for his different books, namely – Matthew Browne, Henry Holbeach, T Talker. Under Henry Holbeach, he wrote a wonderful story called ‘Shoemaker’s Village’. The ‘Chain of Lilies’ is one of the works that he published under his own name.

He was a regular preacher at the chapel of Brixton and is also known to have composed congregational hymns that are popular even today. His hymns were not only inspirational, but also his original work of art. He also published his books and periodicals that were popular throughout the Victorian era.

His periodicals were based on the city of London and basically took charge of topics like ‘men and manners’ to large publishing firms like the ‘Illustrated Times’. Some of his works for adults were ‘Moral Criteria’ and ‘Moral Codes’ that came out in 1869 in the ‘Contemporary Review’. 

He is also known to have written articles for the famous – Gazette, Pall Mall and Spectator. He was also one of the founding members of the London Newspaper called ‘Citizen’. He wrote a children’s fairy tale every Christmas. 

Many of his poems express his great love for nature such as the ‘Great Wide’, ‘Beautiful’, ‘Wonderful World’ and more. 

Lines from the poem ‘Great Wide’ by William Brighty Rands

Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World,

With the wonderful water round you curled,

And the wonderful grass upon your breast-

World, you are beautifully drest.

The wonderful air is over me,

And the wonderful wind is shaking the tree,

It walks on the water, and whirls the mills,

And talks to itself on the tops of the hills.

You friendly Earth! how far do you go,

With the wheat-fields that nod and the rivers that flow,

With cities and gardens, and cliffs, and isles,

And people upon you for thousands of miles?

Ah, you are so great, and I am so small,

I tremble to think of you, World, at all;

And yet, when I said my prayers to-day,

A whisper inside me seemed to say,

“You are more than the Earth, though you are such a dot:

You can love and think, and the Earth cannot!”

Death of William Brighty Rands

William died at the age of 58 years in East Dulwich on the 23rd of April, 1882.


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