William Broome (1689-1745). Courtesy Biographies of Interesting People.

William Broome
Born 1689
Haslington, Cheshire
Died Bath, Somerset
Nationality English
Occupation poet, translator

Rev. William Broome (3 March 1689 - 16 November 1745) was an English poet, cleric, and translator.[1]

Life Edit


Broome was born in Haslington, near Crewe, Cheshire. He was educated at Eton and St John's College, Cambridge.[2] He entered the Church, and became consecutively rector of Sturston in Suffolk, and later Pulham in Norfolk and Eye in Suffolk. He translated the Iliad in prose along with others, and was employed by Alexander Pope, whom he excelled as a Greek scholar, in translating the Odyssey, of which he Englished 8 books, catching the style of his master so exactly as almost to defy identification, and thus annoying Pope so as to earn a niche in The Dunciad. Broome published verses of his own of very moderate poetical merit.[3] He also made translations from the Greek of Anacreon, and his own Poems on Several Occasions were published in 1727. He died in Bath, Somerset.[1]

Youth and educationEdit

Broome, the son of a poor farmer, was born at Haslington in Cheshire, where he was baptised on 3 May 1689.[4]

He was educated at Eton, and is said to have been captain of the school for a whole year, vainly waiting for a scholarship to take him to King's College, Cambridge. At last, in 1708, he was admitted a subsizar of St. John's College, being sent by the kindness of friends. At college he obtained a small exhibition. Among his Cambridge contemporaries he associated with Cornelius Ford and with the Hon. Charles Cornwallis, both of them valuable friends whom he retained through life. The former has related that Broome was very shy and clumsy as an undergraduate, but that he versified so readily that he became known in college as "the Poet."[4]

Early careerEdit

At the age of 23 Broome appeared before the world as a writer. He contributed some very poor verses, modelled on Pope's pieces, to Lintot's Miscellany in 1712, and in the same year was published the prose translation of the Iliad by Ozell, Oldisworth, and Broome. It was as an excellent Greek scholar, as a translator of Homer, and as a great admirer of Pope, that he was introduced to the latter in 1714, at the house of Sir John Cotton, at Madingley, near Cambridge. Pope at once perceived that Broome was a man calculated to be of service to him in his Homeric undertaking, and on returning to London he began that correspondence with him which lasted without intermission for 14 years, and with intervals for more than 20.[4]

The first labur which Pope set him was to read and condense the notes of Eustathius, an archbishop of Thessalonica, who had annotated Homer in the 11th century. The crabbed Greek of this commentator baffled Pope, who was far inferior to Broome as a scholar. In November 1714 Pope set Broome on this work, which proved exceedingly tedious, but was admirably carried out by him. There had been no terms agreed upon for these notes, and when Pope approached the subject of payment, Broome, who was pleased to put the poet under an obligation, refused to be paid. He was, in fact, well-to-do, having had the excellent living of Sturston in Suffolk given to him by his friend Cornwallis.[4]

Broome married Mrs. Elizabeth Clarke, a wealthy widow, on 22 July 1726, and for the rest of his life he enjoyed something like opulence.[4]

The OdysseyEdit

He had now become acquainted with Elijah Fenton, a man somewhat older than himself, of similar tastes and perhaps equal talents, infatuated like himself with admiration for Pope. According to a story, Broome and Fenton had been encouraged by the success of Pope's Iliad to begin a verse-translation of The Odyssey; but it seems more probable that the latter scheme was started by Pope. At all events, there is no doubt that in 1722 Pope proposed to the 2 friends to join him in this work as journeymen labourers.[4]

Broome translated 8 books of The Odyssey (Books 2, 6, 8, 11, 12, 16, 18, and 23).[1] As well, all the notes are by Broome.[5] The history of this famous co-operation, the close of which was marked by Broome's poetical epistle to Pope appended in 1726 to the final note in the Odyssey, is to be found at length in the correspondence of Pope. Broome was embittered by the scandalous reports which were published on the subject, and was easily persuaded that the £570 which he had himself received for his share of the work was an insufficient sum.[4]

In the meantime Broome had been active as a writer. In 1723 he published a Coronation Sermon and a prologue to Fenton's tragedy of Mariamne, and in 1726 he collected his Poems on Several Occasions, published in March 1727, a 2nd edition appearing in 1739. For the copyright of this volume Lintot was persuaded by Pope to give Broome £35.[4]

Broome was unfortunate in his children. His eldest daughter, Anne (born 1 Oct. 1718), died in October 1723, and he dedicated to her memory the ode entitled "Melancholy", certain lines of which seem to have been noticed by Thomas Gray. His other daughter died at the age of 2 years in March 1725. Broome was left childless and in deep dejection, but on 16 March 1726 he was cheered by the birth of a son, Charles John, who survived him.[4]

Quarrel with PopeEdit

In 1728 Broome's anger against Pope became so much embittered that he almost ceased to write to him. He ceased at the same time to make any effort in literature, for, as he said in 1735, when he again made advances to Pope, "you were my poetical sun, and since your influence has been intercepted by the interposition of some dark body, I have never thought the soil worth cultivating, but resigned it up to sterility." To this he was doubtless further impelled by the death of his most intimate literary friends, Fenton in 1730 and Ford in 1731, both of whom had been his frequent guests in the remote parsonage of Sturston.[4]

In September 1728 Broome was presented to the living of Pulham in Norfolk, which he held with Sturston. He afterwards received from his loyal patron, now become the first earl Cornwallis, two Suffolk livings,[4] the rectory of Oakley Magna and the vicarage of Eye, whereupon he resigned Sturston and Pulham. He was also chaplain to Lord Cornwallis, who attempted, but without success, to obtain him promotion in the church.[5]

Pope had been annoyed by popular exaggeration of the part Broome had enjoyed in the preparation of the Odyssey. John Henley had given expression to this scandal in a stinging couplet:

Pope came off clean with Homer; but they say
Broome went before, and kindly swept the way.[5]

Pope thought that Broome should have positively denied this vague indictment of Pope's originality, and when he was silent he revenged himself meanly by a line in the Dunciad:

Hibernian politics, Swift, thy doom,
And Pope's, translating four whole years with Broome.

After several editions of the Dunciad had appeared, Broome, in September 1735, broke his long silence by writing an obsequious letter to Pope, not mentioning the impertinent line, but intended to suggest that bygones should be bygones. Pope altered the line to

thy fate,
And Pope's, ten years to comment and translate.

Pope, however, found Broome exacting and tiresome, and allowed the correspondence to lapse once more.[5]

Final yearsEdit

Broome only appeared in public on 1 more occasion, with an Assize Sermon in 1737. In his later years he amused himself by translating Anacreon for the Gentleman's Magazine.[5]

He died at Bath on 16 November 1745, and was buried in the abbey church. He was exactly a year younger than Pope, and he outlived him about the same length of time. His only son, Charles John Broome, died at Cambridge, as an undergraduate, in December 1747, and, in accordance with the poet's will, his property reverted to Lord Cornwallis.[5]


Broome was a smooth versifier, without a spark of originality. His style was founded upon Pope's so closely that some of what he thought were his original pieces are mere centos of Pope. He was therefore able, like Fenton, but even to a greater extent, to reproduce the style of Pope with marvellous exactitude in translating the Odyssey. His early rudeness of manner gave way to a style of almost obsequious suavity, and his letters, though ingenious and graceful, do not give an impression of sincerity. Of his own poems none has remained in the memory of the most industrious reader, and he owes the survival of his name entirely to his collaboration with Pope.[5]


In April 1728 Broome was made a LL.D., on occasion of the king's visit to Cambridge.[4]

His poems "The Rosebud" and "Belinda's Recovery from Sickness" were included in the Oxford Book of English Verse (1250-1900).[6]



  • The Oak and the Dunghill: A fable (anonymous). London: J. Roberts, 1728.
  • Poems on Several Occasions. London: Henry Lintot, 1739, 1750.
  • The Poems of Broome & Pitt (with Christopher Pitt), in The Lives of the English Poets, Volume XLIII. London: H. Hughs, 1779; London: Cadell & Davies / Samuel Bagster, 1807.
  • Poetical Works. Apollo Press, by the Martins, 1781.
  • Poetical Works. London: C. Cooke (Cooke's edition), 1796.
  • The Poems of William Broome. London: Johnson, 1810.


  • The Duty of Publick Intercession and Thanksgiving for Princes: A sermon. London: Bernard Lintot, 1723.
  • A Sermon: Preached at the Assizes, Norwich. Norwich, UK: William Chase, 1737.

Collected editionsEdit

  • Thomas Worthington Barlow, A Memoir of William Broome: With selections of his works. Manchester, UK: J.G. Bell, 1855.


  • Anacreon, Odes. Paris: Louis Perrin, 1835.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[7]

The Rose Bud, William Broome

The Rose Bud, William Broome. Audiobook Short Poetry

See also Edit

References Edit

  • PD-icon.svg Gosse, Edmund (1886) "Broome, William" in Stephen, Leslie Dictionary of National Biography 6 London: Smith, Elder, pp. 441-442 . Wikisource, Web, Aug. 25, 2016.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 William Broome, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. Web, May 3, 2016.
  2. William Broome (1689-1745), English Poetry, 1579-1830, Center for Applied Technologies in the Humanities, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University. Web, May 3, 2016.
  3. John William Cousin, "Brooke, Henry," A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, 1910, 47-48. Web, Dec. 20, 2017.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 Gosse, 441.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 Gosse, 442.
  6. Bronte to Cutts, Alphabetic List of Authors, Oxford Book of English Verse (1250-1900) (Oxford: Clarenden, 1919),, Web, Apr. 25, 2012.
  7. Search results = au:William Broome, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, May 3, 2016.

External linksEdit


PD-icon.svg 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: Broome, William

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