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Thomas Lovell Beddoes (30 June 1803 – 26 January 1849) was an English poet, dramatist and physician.
Born in Clifton, Bristol, England, he was the son of Dr. Thomas Beddoes, a friend of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Anna, sister of Maria Edgeworth. He was educated at Charterhouse and Pembroke College, Oxford. He published in 1821 The Improvisatore, which he afterwards endeavoured to suppress. His next venture, a blank-verse drama called The Bride's Tragedy (1822), was published and well reviewed, and won for him the friendship of Barry Cornwall. The facsimile edition also contains a "dedication" (really a preface), in which Beddoes cites the source of his inspiration for the play ("founded on facts, which occurred at Oxford"): the murder and burial of a secret bride. Not surprisingly, he refrains from decrypting the play's sexual symbolism: then a young homosexual at college, Beddoes was perhaps murdering The Love that Dare not Speak Its Wedding Plans, his own clandestine consort.
Beddoes' work shows a constant preoccupation with death. In 1824, he went to Göttingen to study medicine, motivated by his hope of discovering physical evidence of a human spirit which survives the death of the body.
Depressed, perhaps by the intractable problems with what he himself called his “unhappy, strange conglomerate”, Beddoes got drunk in public and was expelled from Göttingen in 1829. He completed his MD at Würzburg in 1831. He then wandered about practising his profession, and expounding democratic theories which got him into trouble. He was deported in 1833 by the Bavarian government as a political agitator. By now he was writing inflammatory pamphlets in his adopted German. He had thrown himself, heart and soul, into the liberationist politics of post-Napoleonic Europe. He lived in Zürich for seven years, respected as a man of science and letters, probably a practising homosexual, and by all accounts outspoken and eccentric: when its liberal government fell he was forced into a period of intellectual vagrancy. After a visit to London in the summer of 1840 he ended up, on the invitation of Dr Alfred Frey, a hospital physician, in Basel.
He became increasingly disturbed, and committed suicide by poison at Basel, in 1849, at the age of 45.
For some time before his death he had been engaged on a drama, Death's Jest Book, which was published in 1850 with a memoir by his friend, T. F. Kelsall. His Collected Poems were published in 1851.
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