Samuel Rogers

Portrait of Samuel Rogers

Samuel Rogers was an English poet who was famous during his lifetime but his fame has since dwindled in relation to his friends Wordsworth, Coleridge and Byron. He was born in Islington, London on 30th July 1763 and died in London on 18th December 1855 aged 92.

Major Works

“The Pleasures of Memory” (1792) 
An Epistle to a Friend” (1798)
“The Voyage of Columbus” (1810)
“Italy” (1822–28)
“Poems” (1834)

Biography Timeline

Samuel Rogers was born in Stoke Newington, London in England on 30th July 1763. His father, was Thomas Rogers a banker and merchant and briefly the Member of Parliament for Coventry. His mother was Mary, the daughter of his father’s business partner Daniel Radford. He became a member of the Unitarian congregation at Newington Green and was educated in Stoke Newington and Hackney. He wanted to become a Presbyterian Minister but his father persuades him to join his banking business.

1786: Inspired by Oliver Goldsmith he begins writing poetry during his holidays from the banking firm. He contributes work to the “Gentleman’s Magazine” and publishes a volume containing some imitations of Goldsmith and “Ode to Superstition” influenced by Thomas Gray.

1788: His older brother Thomas dies and his business responsibilities are increased. 

1789: He visits Scotland and meets Adam Smith and other literary luminaries.

1791: He visits Paris and enjoys the rich art collections there.

1792: He publishes his first popular work. “The Pleasures of Memory”.

1793: His father dies and he inherits the banking firm and a considerable income. He moves home to Chambers in the Temple and meets with Richard Sharp and artists such as John Henry Fuseli, He becomes a leading figure in London literary society.

1796: He is elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in November.

1798: He publishes “An Epistle to a Friend” about Richard “Conversation” Sharp”.

1802: He meets the influential politician Charles James Fox and tours the art galleries of Paris with him. 

1803: He moves to 22 St James’s Place where he becomes famed for his literary lunches and dinners and is known for his sarcastic wit. He fills the house with works of art. Visitors to the house include William Wordsworth (for whom he later secures the position of distributor of stamps for Westmorland), Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Walter Scott and Lord Byron.

1810: He publishes the poem “The Voyage of Columbus”.

1814: He tours Switzerland and Italy with his sister Sarah. Arriving in Naples he hears of Napoleon Bonaparte’s escape from Elba and has to hurry back to England. He publishes the narrative poem “Jacqueline”.

1819: He writes “Human Life”.

1821: He visits Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley in Pisa, Italy.

1822: He publishes “Italy” anonymously (and then named in 1828).

1830: “Italy” was not a success at first so he commissions J.M.W. Turner to illustrate it and produces a lavish book, which sells much better.

1834: He publishes the collection entitled “Poems”.

1850: He is offered the role of Poet Laureate at the death of William Wordsworth but refuses due to his age. He is now ill and confined to a chair after a fall in the street.

Samuel Rogers died on 18th December 1855 at his home in London, England. He was buried in the family tomb at St Mary’s Churchyard, Haringey, London.