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Roden Noel (1834-1894), by George Richmond (1809-1896). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Roden Berkeley Wriothesley Noel, also Noël (27 August 1834 - 26 May 1894), was an English poet.[1]



Noel, son of the 1st Earl of Gainsborough, was educated at Cambridge. He wrote Behind the Veil (1863), The Red Flag (1872), Songs of the Heights and Deeps (1885), and Essays on various poets, also a Life of Byron.[2]

Youth and education[]

Noel was the 4th son of Charles Noel, lord Barham (in 1841 created 1st Earl of Gainsborough). His mother Frances, 2nd daughter of Robert Jocelyn, 3rd earl of Roden, was his father's 4th wife.[1]

Noel graduated with an M.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1858.[1]

Marriage and career[]

In 1863 he married Alice, daughter of Paul de Broe,[1] director of the Ottoman Bank in Beirut.[3] A son, Conrad Le Despencer Roden, and a daughter, Frances, survived him.[1] Their 3rd child, Eric, who died at the age of five, is commemorated in Roden Noel's best-known book of verse, A Little Child's Monument (1881).[3]

His other books of poetry are Behind the Veil, and other poems (1863, not included in his collected works), Beatrice, and other Poems (1868), The Red Flag (1872), Livingstone in Africa (1874), Songs of the Heights and Deeps (1885), A Modern Faust, and other poems (1888), Poor People's Christmas (1890) and My Sea, and other poems (1896). His other works include a drama in verse, The House of Ravensburg (1877), a Life of Byron (1890, “Great Writers” series), a selection of Thomas Otway's plays (1888) for the “Mermaid” series, and critical papers on literature and philosophy.[3]

From 1867 to 1871 Noel performed the duties of a groom of the privy chamber to Queen Victoria.[1]

The latter part of his life was spent at Brighton, but he died at Mainz, on 26 May 1894.[3]


In 1863 he issued his 1st volume of verse, Behind the Veil, and other poems, London, 8vo. His next book, Beatrice, and other poems, 1868, 8vo, in which the influence of Shelley was strongly marked, raised higher expectations. Like its successors, it was distinguished by high purpose and refined feeling; like them also, it lacked self-restraint, compression, form. Among his later volumes the want of inspiration and of melody is least felt in his pathetic Little Child's Monument, 1881.[1] Noel's versification was unequal and sometimes harsh, but he has a genuine feeling for nature, and the work is permeated by philosophic thought.[3]

The ablest of his critical writings was his sympathetic, if somewhat capricious, Essays upon Poetry and Poets, London, 1886, 8vo, including papers on Chatterton, Byron, Shelley, Wordsworth, Keats, Hugo, Tennyson, and Walt Whitman.[1]


A selection from his poems, with a prefatory notice by his friend, Robert Buchanan, was issued in the series known as the 'Canterbury Poets' in 1892.[1] His Collected Poems were edited (1902) by his sister, Victoria Buxton, with a notice by John Addington Symonds, which had originally appeared in the Academy (19th of jan. 1899) as a review of The Modern Faust.[3]

2 of his poems, "The Water-Nymph and the Boy" and "The Old", were included in the Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900.[4] [5]

His poem "Sea Slumber Song" was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar as the first song of his song-cycle Sea Pictures.




  • The House of Ravensburg. London: Daldy, Ibister, 1877.


  • A Philosophy of Immortality. London: W.H. Harrison, 1882.
  • Essays on Poetry and Poets. London, Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1886.
  • Life of Byron. London: Walter Scott (Great Writers series), 1890.
    • Life of Lord Byron. Port Washington, NY & London : Kennikat Press, 1972.


Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[6]

Poems by Roben Noel[]


Sea Slumber-Song. Elgar Noel

  1. Sea Slumber Song

See also[]


  •  Seccombe, Thomas (1895) "Noel, Roden Berkeley Wriothesley" in Lee, Sidney Dictionary of National Biography 41 London: Smith, Elder, p. 92 . Wikisource, Web, Feb. 26, 2017.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 Seccombe, 92.
  2. John William Cousin, "Noel, Hon. Roden Berkeley Wriothesley," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: Dent / New York: Dutton, 1910, 287. Wikisource, Web, Feb. 15, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Noel, Roden Berkeley Wriothesley, Encyclopædia Britannica 1911, Volume 19, 732. Wikisource, Web, Feb. 26, 2017.
  4. "The Water-Nymph and the Boy". Arthur Quiller-Couch, editor, Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900 (Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919)., Web, May 12, 2012.
  5. "The Old". Arthur Quiller-Couch, editor, Oxford Book of English Verse 1250-1900 (Oxford, UK: Clarendon, 1919)., Web, May 12, 2012.
  6. Search results=Roden Noel, WorldCat, Web, July 24, 2012.

External links[]


This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, the Dictionary of National Biography (edited by Leslie Stephen). London: Smith, Elder, 1885-1900. Original article is at: Noel, Roden Berkeley Wriothesley
 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain, the 1911 Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Original article is at "Noel, Roden Berkeley Wriothesley"