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Thomas Chatterton
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    (November 20, 1752-August 24, 1770)
    Most famous for the forged ‘Rowley Poems’
    Contributed to ‘Bristol Journal,’ 'Town and Country Journal’ and ‘Freeholder’s Magazine’
    At first, his family thought he was slow because he spoke late and disliked school.
    He became obsessed with the medieval archives of the local church and withdrew into an imaginary fifteenth century world.
    He forged a series of poems, essays and histories by an imaginary fifteenth century monk called Thomas Rowley.
    Facing starvation in London, he committed suicide by swallowing arsenic rather than accept help from friends.
    He tore up several of his manuscripts before killing himself.
    For years after his death, Bristol merchants peddled his forgeries as authentic documents.
    He is the youngest major English poet.
    He taught himself to read with a Gothic bible and inscriptions on parchment and medieval tombs.
    He began contributing political satire to newspapers at age 11.
    He became an icon to Romantic poets such as William Wordsworth who called him ‘that marvelous Boy.’
    His forgeries fooled many noted antiquarians and writers, including Horace Walpole.
    The duped Walpole later said, ‘I do not believe there ever existed so masterly a genius.’
    He may have actually died from a quack cure for gonorrhea.

Credit: Georgina

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