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James Elroy Flecker


FLECKER, JAMES ELROY (1884-1915), was born in London on Nov. 5, 1884, the son of Rev. W. H. Flecker, and christened Herman Elroy; this name he changed to James many years later. He was educated at Dean Close School, Cheltenham, where his father was headmaster, Uppingham and Trinity Col lege, Oxford. Desiring to enter the consular service, he went to Caius college, Cambridge, to learn oriental languages, and he was sent to Constantinople in June 191o. The same year his Twenty-six Poems was published. In September, having fallen ill, he returned to England and went to a sanatorium; he returned to his post, apparently cured, in March 1911, and was trans ferred to Smyrna in April. In May he married, in Athens, Miss Helle Skiadaressi. He fell ill again early in 1913, and went to Switzerland; The Golden Journey to Samarkand was published in this year. He died at Davos on Jan. 3, 1915. The last few years of his life included, in addition to competent work at his profession and a desperate struggle with illness, a considerable poetic activity, some of it of very high quality.

He belongs to no "school," though the Parnassians are known to have had some influence on him, and his work, some of which is in every modern anthology, never seems quite at home there. Nor is it easy to describe it ; of his many themes the most re current are Greece, the East and England, and he has best por trayed himself in Oak and Olive. But at least it seems safe to conjecture that some of his lyrics, between the sculptured still ness of A Ship, an Isle and the movement, so expressive in utterly different ways, of Saadabad and the Dying Patriot will not be for gotten. What is perhaps more disputable is Flecker's place as a dramatist. He left behind him at his death two unpublished plays, Hassan (Haymarket, 1923) and Don Juan. Don Juan is per haps too slight and unequal to support a claim to dramatic genius. Hassan is rather a different matter. No one would call it fault less, but as a play to read, with its colour and its wit and its passion, its alternation of merriment and tragedy, and the strange beauty of its rhythms it is entirely fascinating. Flecker also wrote The Grecians (191o) and a novel, The King of Alsander (1914).

See Collected Poems, with an introduction by J. C. Squire (1916) ; Hassan (1922) ; Don Juan (1925) ; Collected Prose (1920 and 1922) ; Letters to Frank Savery (1926) .

See also D. Goldring, J. E. Flecker (192 2) ; and the Life by Ger aldine Hodgson (1925).

hassan, juan, life and published