CHRONOLOGY OF MASSEY'S LIFE

  

YEAR   EVENT
     
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.
1843-
1844
  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 Love published.
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 edition—the 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 subsidy—it is refused.
The Poetical Works of G. M. published—includes biographical sketch.
Develops an interest in Shakespeare's Sonnets.
1862   Other means of income not forthcoming, is faced with penury.
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 leanings.
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 address—its 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 race—later entitled A Book of the Beginnings.
1873   Continues lecturing on literary subjects and in part, Spiritualism.
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 born—it 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 published.
Finances are strained—reapplies 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 republished.
October 12, 'Myth and Totemism as Primitive Modes of Representation' published in National Review—it 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 Life—a collection of old and new poems—published.
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 Norwood—the house is renamed Anru—to 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.

     

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This page last updated: 31/03/2008