Thomas Edward Brown (1830-1897)
Manx National Poet
The Island's National Poet. He preserved the character of the Manx people in his unique narrative poems in Manx dialect. A prolific poet and letterwriter.
Thomas Edward Brown, often considered to be ‘the Manx National Poet’, was born in Douglas and educated at King William’s College and Christ Church, Oxford. There he took a Double First in Law and Classics and was subsequently appointed a Fellow of Oriel College. In 1855, having been ordained a deacon in Oxford, he returned to the Island as Vice-Principal at King William’s. He remained on the Island until 1861, when he returned to England and held several teaching posts prior to his retirement to Ramsey in 1892.
Brown’s poetry was initially written in English lyric style, but from 1870 on he became best known for his Manx dialect poems. His work was mostly published in small editions by local printers in Douglas, but in 1881 Macmillan of London agreed to produce four poems in one volume entitled Fo’c’s’le Yarns. Other collections were published in 1887 and 1889, and by the time he retired Brown was known to literary circles far beyond the Isle of Man. In 1900, after his death, his Collected Poems was published by Macmillan as well as his Letters by Constable. It was his aim to use poetry as a way of recording the old ways of Manx life and speech before they disappeared.
Today, T.E. Brown is commemorated by a memorial room in the Manx Museum and a statue on Bucks Road, Douglas. In a newspaper poll conducted in 2003 he was voted ‘Greatest Manxman of all time’.
The next is where God keeps for me / A little island in the sea...