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Fleur Adcock

Thomas Ernest Hulme (1883 - 1917)

Books by this author: Selected Writings
  • About
  • T. E. Hulme, aesthetic theorist, soldier, and imagist poet, was born at Gratton Hall in North-East Staffordshire on 16 September 1883, the eldest son of a wealthy family of landowners. He was educated at the High School in Newcastle-under-Lyme, where he developed his characteristically pugnacious attitude to intellectual debate. In February 1902, he was admitted to St. John's College, Cambridge, to read mathematics, but he was sent down in March 1904 for a disciplinary offence. He enrolled at University College London in October 1904 to read biology and physics, but continued to spend much time in Cambridge attending undergraduate lectures in philosophy. Then, in July 1906, he withdrew from his studies altogether and travelled to Canada on a cargo boat. His experience of the vastness of the Canadian landscape, coupled with his attendance at the Anglo-Catholic church of St Thomas's in Toronto, crystallized his philosophical and theological sense of man's insignificance. At around this time he began making the fragmentary philosophical notes later published as 'Cinders' and 'Notes on Language and Style'.

    Hulme returned to Europe in 1907, and spent time in Brussels improving his French and learning German. Returning to London, he associated himself with A. R. Orage and his circle, contributing to Orage's journal The New Age from February 1909 and beginning to write poetry. The 'Complete Poetical Works of T. E. Hulme' appeared in The New Age in 1912. During this period in London, Hulme produced several essays and lectures which cemented his reputation, including 'Romanticism and Classicism' (date unknown) and 'Modern Art and its Philosophy' (1914). He continued to write for The New Age until March 1916.

    On the outbreak of war in August 1914, Hulme enlisted as a private, and his company was sent to the front in December. He was wounded in April 1915 and sent home. In March 1916 he received a commission as a temporary second lieutenant in the Royal Marine Artillery; he returned to the front late in 1916, and was killed in action on 28 September 1917.

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