CHRONOLOGY OF MASSEY'S LIFE
|1828||May 29, born at Gamble Wharf, Tring. Christened Thomas Gerald.|
|1836||Starts working at local silk mill 13 hours a day, six days a week.|
|Reads Bible, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, etc.|
|Works as a straw plaiter.|
|1841||Starts working at a boarding school.|
|Has first poem published in local paper.
Moves to London.
Works as a draper's errand boy near High Holborn.
Now free to read radical works by Paine, Volney, Blanc and Howitt, etc.
Becomes interested in Chartism.
|1846||Poems and Chansons by a Tring Peasant Boy, first collection of poems published.|
|1848||Forms an alliance with Chartist movement.
Joins National Charter Association.
|1849||Moves to Uxbridge.
Joins 'Young Men's Improvement Society' headed by John Bedford Leno. Monthly journal, Uxbridge Pioneer, launched and is nominated one of the editors.
With Leno, starts another journal, Uxbridge Spirit of Freedom. It meets with some success.
Unites with Walter Cooper and Thomas Shorter for equal rights of workers.
'Working Tailor's Association' formed, returns to London to become its secretary.
|1850||Contributes poems to Cooper's Journal.
Attends his first demonstration of clairvoyance by Rosina Jane Knowles.
April 21, gives first public lecture on 'The Poetry of Freedom and Progress.'
July 8, marries Rosina at All Souls Church, St. Marylebone.
Mixes with members of Christian Socialist movement.
July 31, delivers speech on behalf of Working Men's Association.
Contributes articles and poems to Chartist paper, Red Republican.
Despite internecine factions, also contributes to Christian Socialist paper.
|1851||March 21, Voices of Freedom and Lyrics of
October 22, his first child, Christabel, is born.
|1852||Develops experiments in mesmerism with his
wife. Private sessions held.
Contributes articles and reviews to revamped Friend of the People.
Leaves 'Working Tailor's Association'.
Contributes to amalgamated paper, The Star of Freedom.
Reneges on his allegiance to Chartist movement.
October 1, assisted by his wife, gives public lectures and demonstrations of mesmerism and clairvoyance out of financial hardship. Due to popularity, they are continued till the end of the year. Now considers taking up lecturing full time.
|1853||October 4, Cecilia Geraldine is born.
Continues lecturing on small scale.
|1854||February, Ballad of Babe Christabel is
published, self-financed. Received favourably, particularly by the
Athenaeum. This leads to further editions in March, June and November
amidst mixed reactions. It reaches the attention of George Eliot who
possibly bases her character Felix Holt on Massey. Copies are sent to
Ruskin, Carlyle and Tennyson. Charges of plagiarism are levelled.
Poems and Ballads published in New York.
Rosina's health deteriorates during pregnancy.
August 24, Marian Mertia born, named after his patroness, Lady Marian Alford.
|1855||February, Christabel, revised and
enlarged, is published for fifth time.
War Waits, a collection of poems on the Crimean war, published.
March, family move to Edinburgh for new post at the Edinburgh News.
July 19, Marian dies of enteritis. Rosina becomes bibulous and depressive. Her condition progressively weakens to the state of invalidity. Marriage strained.
Comes into contact with major Scottish literary figures, including William Stirling, author of The Canon, who assists the family financially.
May 7, Sidney William Dobell is born.
September 10, Sidney dies of peritonititis.
|1856||October, Craigcrook Castle published, sells well, prompting a second editionthe sales, this time round, are dismal.|
|1857||Redundancy from Edinburgh News.
An American edition of collected poems issued.
Starts reviewing poetical works for the Athenaeum.
|1858||January, starts tour in north England lecturing
on various subjects.
Rosina's condition worsens forcing move to Hertfordshire.
Stipend of £100 awarded reluctantly by government on Stirling's intercession.
Move to Lake Windermere for financial reasons.
|1859||Robert Burns, a Centenary Song and Others published.|
|1860||Contributes to Dicken's magazine All the Year Round, and Good Words, Cassell's Magazine, Punch, as a means of subsistence till mid 1870's.|
|1861||Moves to Rickmansworth, Herts.
Havelock's March and Other Poems published.
November, applies to Civil Service Pensions List for subsidyit is refused.
The Poetical Works of G. M. publishedincludes biographical sketch.
Develops an interest in Shakespeare's Sonnets.
|1862||Other means of income not forthcoming, is faced
Applies to Royal Literary Fund for grant. Through the assistance of Alford and others, receives moral support.
Rosina recommended for mental institution. Spiritual phenomena deepens.
November, lectures in Jersey.
Followed by lectures in Guernsey.
|1863||Awarded an annual remuneration of £70.
Continues reviewing books for the Athenaeum.
Contributes poems to Good Words.
|1864||April, publishes article on Shakespeare's
Sonnets in Quarterly Review.
Writes to James Orchard Halliwell with view to having article published as book.
Applies to Royal Literary Fund for another grant.
|1865||Forced again to move to cheaper accommodation
in Witchcraft Bottom.
Offered rent-free accommodation in Ringshall.
Due to Rosina's reputation as a psychic, the family receive undue attention.
Work continues on Sonnets. Rosina, through her psychism, provides additional information.
October, work finishes on the Sonnets, ready for publication.
|1866||March 13, Rosina dies in her sleep.
During a sιance with Daniel Douglas Holme, Rosina's supposed spirit communicates confirming belief in continuity of consciousness after death.
March, Shakespeare's Sonnets Never Before Interpreted published.
|1867||May, receives letter from Algernon Swinburn
commenting on his book.
Poem passed to Gladstone through Lady Alford. It reaches Queen Victoria.
|1868||January 2, marries Eva Byrn.
June, Carmen Nuptiale published privately.
|1869||Develops an interest in Spiritualism.
May 9, Hesper Carmina Emilia is born.
In Memory of John Wlliam Spencer published.
|1870||January, A Tale of Eternity and Other Poems
published with mixed reaction from critics due to its spiritualistic
March 30, Maybyrn Adelaide is born.
|1871||February 2, Evelyn is born.
Continues extensive touring throughout England lecturing on various subjects.
July 28, addresses meeting on eve of the departure of Emma Hardinge Britten for America, the renowned Spiritualist and author of Nineteenth Century Miracles, Modern American Spiritualism, and publisher of Ghost Land, thereby solidifying his allegiance to Spiritualism.
|1872||Publishes Concerning Spiritualism based
on his addressits theories are later disavowed.
Lectures on Spiritualism.
The Secret Drama of Shakespeare's Sonnets Unfolded with the Characters Identified published, a reprint of 1866 edition with additional chapter.
Sells rights of book on origins of human racelater entitled A Book of the Beginnings.
|1873||Continues lecturing on literary subjects and in
September 23, departs for lecture tour in America.
October 26, first lecture in New York.
November/December lectures in Philadelphia, Buffalo, Chicago, Boston.
|1874||January 8, mother dies aged 77.
May 10, gives lecture 'The Coming Religion' in Boston.
May 16, leaves New York to return to England.
Financially solvent, begins compiling information for A Book of the Beginnings.
|1875||Resumes touring in winter lecturing on Spiritualism with anti-biblical stance.|
|1876||April 23, Fabyan Paul bornit would be his only son.|
|1877||Family moves to New Southgate.
Concentrates on writing A Book of the Beginnings.
Writes poem in honour of Annie Besant, the Theosophist.
|1880||October 6, father dies aged 84.
Elected Chosen Chief of the Most Ancient Order of Druids, replacing Edward Vaughan Kenealy on his death, author of The Book of God and Enoch, the Second Messenger of God. He would remain the Chosen Chief till his resignation in 1906.
|1881||A Book of the Beginnings published. Reviews are mixed.|
|1882||Garibaldi. A Group of Reprinted Poems
Finances are strainedreapplies to Royal Literary Fund for another grant.
|1883||July, The Natural Genesis published. It
is met with caution.
September 9, delivers lecture 'Man in Search of his Soul' at London.
Lectures along the same lines for rest of month.
October 9, leaves England for another lecture tour in America.
August 12, gives first lecture in Australia.
|1886||Conflicts with scholars over theories on
biblical narrative as allegorical.
Continues lecturing in England.
|1887||April 1, is granted an additional pension.
Ten lectures published in private edition.
November 2, receives letter from H. P. Blavatsky commending his work.
Lectures become more anti-orthodox towards Christianity.
|1888||Secret Drama of Shakespeare's Sonnets
October 12, 'Myth and Totemism as Primitive Modes of Representation' published in National Reviewit would be his last article for a journal.
November, commences lecture tour in America. Curtailed by news of daughter Hesper's serious illness.
|1889||March 3, Hesper dies.
My Lyrical Lifea collection of old and new poemspublished.
|1890||22 July, Elsie dies forcing another move, this
time to East Dulwich.
Befriends Albert Churchward, Freemason and general practitioner. This friendship would last till the end of his life.
|1891||Publishes letter from Blavatsky with his reply.|
|1893||Moves to South Norwoodthe house is renamed Anruto concentrate on new book.|
|1896||January, Fabyan dies.
Work on book Ancient Egypt, The Light of the World continues apace.
|1903||Last move to South Norwood Hill.|
|1904||Applies for another grant from the Literary Fund.|
|1907||Due to ill health, work on book is protracted.
September, Ancient Egypt finally published, partly self-financed, 500 copies only.
October 29, dies of exhaustion.
This page last updated: 31/03/2008