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West Country Poets

W. H. K. WRIGHT (1844-)

William Henry Kearley  WRIGHT, the son of William and Mary Ann WRIGHT, was born at Plymouth September 15, 1844.  He was educated under Mr. George JAGO, at the Plymouth Public School, and was for some years engaged in the Bank of Deposit, Plymouth.  On the disastrous failure of this bank he entered th service of the South Devon Railway Company, where he rose step by step to a position of honour and trust.  As honorary librarian of the Plymouth Working Men's Association and of the Railway Servants' Library he had considerable experience in the arrangement, classification and general working of a library.  When the committee of the Free Library of Plymouth, in 1876, were appointing a libarian, Mr. Wright was selected to fill the post.  His appointment to this position has been an eminently suitable one, and many are the services rendered to the Institution by Mr. Wright during his librarianship.  The special collection of Devon and Cornwall literature made by him is probably the most complete in existence.  Mr. Wright has always taken a keen interest in the life and progress of Plymouth, and has done good service in its behalf on many notable occasions.

For some time he found congenial employment in editing the Western Antiquary, a periodical commenced in 1881, and devoted to the collection of interesting biographical and topographical information about the western counties.

He is one of the original members of the Library Association, having been elected in 1877; has been a member of its Council for many years, and is at prsent a vice-president of the society.

It was in no small degree due to Mr. Wright's advocacy that in 1884 a statue of Sir Francis DRAKE was placed on the Hoe at Plymouth, and it was almost entirely owing to his unwearied exertions that the Armada Tercentenary Commemoration was held at Plymouth in July, 1888.

For many years he has been deeply intersted in the subject of bookplates, and in 1891 he was chiefly instrumental in founding the Ex Libris Society, of which he subsequently became the honorary secretary, and also the general editor of the Ex Libris Journal, the organ of the society.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and a member of the Devonshire Association, of the Somersetshire Archaelogical Society, and of the Plymouth Institution.  He is also a vocalist of considerable ability. He has been always an active writer and editor.  Besides numerous contributions to periodical literature, he has published 'the Visitors' Guide to Mount Edgecumbe,' 1871; 'The Illustrated Newquay Guide and Visitors' Hand Book,' 1885; and 'The Illustrated Hand Book to Plymouth, Devonport and Stonehouse,' 1885.  He also edited (1890) the 'History of Okehampton,' based upon the journals and collections of Messrs. BRIDGES, RATTENBURY, and SHEBBEARE.  He edited 'Gay's Fables' for Warne's Chandos Classics (1889).  His two volumes on the 'Blue Friars' of Plymouth (1889 and 1891) contain much interesting reading and local information.  He contributed many articles, poems, and sketches to the literature of the Armada Tercentenary, notably a lengthy illustrated article in the English Illustrated Magazine (April, 1888).  The Transactions of the Library Association contain many valuable practical papers by Mr. Wright, and he has contributed to most of the periodicals of the western counties.  He is also himself a poet, and has written many interesting fugitive pieces, showing careful compositin and much command of language, of which the following is an accepable specimen.



There are moments when the spirit
  Seems to linger in its flight,
When the past is dim and cloudlike,
  And the future dark as night;
When, 'twixt dark and lightness hov'ring,
  E'en the hand of Time seems stgayed,
And we stand alone, unfriended,
  By a nameless power dismayed.

Thus stood I upon the threshold
  Of this wayside inn of Time,
In the midnight, in the stillness,
  List'ning for the New Year's chime.
So I waited, doubting, fearing,
  All the past beyond recall,
All the future hidden from me
  By a dense impervious pall.

Transcribed by Sandra Windeatt from: Wright, W. H. K.,(1896) West-Country Poets: Their Lives and Works. London: Elliot Stock, pp.48-51

Last updated 22 Jul 2011 - Brian Randell.

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