Thomas Edward Brown 1830-1897

T. E. Brown - the schoolmaster This brief life is based on that by W. Cubbon A Book of Manx Poetry Manx Language Society 1913
The third son of the Rev.Robert Brown and Dorothy Thompson, and younger brother of the eminent Baptist divine, the Rev. Hugh Stowell Brown. Born in New Bond Street, Douglas. Educated partly in the parish school at Braddan and partly by his father. At the age of 15 he went to King William's College. In 1847 he won the second prize for a poem, the first prize having been won by F. W. Farrar, afterwards Canon Farrar (author of "Eric, or Little by Little"), who was at King William's College at the same time. He secured several valuable successes at both the College and later at Oxford. In 1854 he obtained the highest academic honour, that of a Fellowship at Oriel. He was Vice-Principal of King William's College from 1855 to 1861 when he became headmaster of the Crypt Grammar School, Gloucester. In 1863 he was appointed second master of Clifton College, where he spent nearly 30 years. He repaired to his beloved homeland in 1892, and took up residence in Ramsey. A bust in marble, carved by a Manx sculptor, Swinnerton, stands in the hall of the Douglas Public Library [now in Bay Room Manx Museum]. He published several volumes of verse, the first being ' Betsy Lee, and other Poems," in 1881,and the whole were collected and published in one volume shortly after his death on a visit to Clifton. Later, his letters to a number of friends were also collected and published. Although a great quantity of his verse is in the Manx dialect, he is increasingly being recognised as taking high rank among the masters of English poetic literature.

Time however has not dealt well with T.E.Brown - although highly regarded, especially on the Island, at the turn of the Century, he is now little read. Samuel Norris accounts for this by Brown's use of the Anglo-Manx Dialect and his rather late start as a Poet. There was always some undercurrent of suspicion by the native Manx that he was 'mocking' them in some way.

Published Volumes of Poetry

Individual Poems were published in I.O.M. Times and elsewhere
1873 Betsy Lee Macmillan (published anonymously)
1881 Fo'c'sle Yarns Macmillan & Co
1887 The Doctor and other Poems Swan Sonnenschein and Co
1889 The Manx Witch and other Poems Macmillan & Co
1900 The Collected Poems of T.E.Brown Macmillan & Co
1908 Golden Treasury Series - Selected Poems of T.E.Brown Macmillan & Co [with an Introduction by H.F.Brown] (reprinted 1908, 1912, 1915, 1919, 1922 &1930 - note however this collection does not include Fo'c'sle Yarns)

1931 Thomas Edward Brown [23 poems] London: Ernest Benn

The Manx Society published a T.E.Brown Calendar containing a quote for each day of the year, in 1913 (reprinted 1927).

Individual Poems

See Collected Poems (including Chalse a Killey, Spes Altera; Bella Gorry , My Garden)

His great love of the Island is seen in many of these but especially in part III of Epistola ad Dakyns



T.E. Brown in old ageT. E. Brown was certainly one of the great letter writers among the poets. In his letters we find himself, his vivid personality, his large-heartedness and knowledge of human nature, his keen sense of humour, kits Joy in beauty, and his deep religious feeling. Mr. Irwin's collection is a cherished possession of all lovers of the Poet, and makes them long for more. (Sophie Morrison)

1900 Letters of T.E.Brown ... Edited with an Introductory Memoir 3rd Ed 2 vols Sidney T. Irwin London:Archibald Constable and Co.
1915 New Letters of T.E.Brown [to C.W.Roeder] Mannin 9 p519 et seq

1952 4th edition of letters.. Liverpool: Univ of Liverpool Press
2004 Newly Discovered Letters of T. E. Brown edited by Andrew Graham Dakyns & Belinda Robertson 2 vols Douglas:Manx National Heritage ISBN 0-9547180-0-3
A lengthy extract from one to Hall Caine is given by Kenyon
Other letters are included in the 1930 memorial volume

Other Prose Publications

T. E. Brown as young schoolmaster T.E.Brown was a great walker and his short guide, written for his friend James Brown owner of the IoM Times, makes interesting reading though I doubt if the walks could be followed today.
A list of reviews etc is on p224/5 of the 1930 memorial volume
1877 How to spend 7 days in the Isle of Man Brown's Guide to the Isle of Man
1893 Manx Character - Ramsey Courier (reprinted Ramsey Chruch Magazine 1898)
1895 Appeal for St. Mathew's New Church Brown and Son
1896 Preface to A.W.Moore's 'Manx Ballads'
1897 St Mathew's Old and New Brown and Son
1896/7 Manxiana - Ramsey Church Magazine
1897 Manx Idioms


A bibliography of T.E.Brown can be found in vol 2 of William Cubbon A Bibliographical Account of Works relating to the Isle of Man Oxford Univ Press 1939
and S. Nowell-Smith "Some Uncollected Authors XXXIII: Thomas Edward Brown, 1830-1897" Book Collector 11 pp338/344 1962

Memorial to T.E. Brown Manx Quarterly #7 pp642/647 Nov 1909
T.E. Brown Memorial Tablet Manx Quarterly #14 pp203/206 Sept 1914
W Cubbon Tom Brown's Forbears Ellan Vannin vol 3 #9, 1928
R. Kissack The Genealogy of T.E. Brown IoMFam History Soc Vol 3 No. 1 p10
R. Kissack The Genealogy of Mrs Thomas Edward Brown IoMFam History Soc Vol 3 No. 3 p54
A.W.Moore Manx Worthies 1901 for a biography and also a brief biography of his father Robert Brown
Canon John Quine's reported 1913 Oration prior to a dramatic enactment of Betsy Lee Manx Quarterly #13 pp114/118 1913
Ralph Hall Caine The lure of the West Country Manx Quarterly #28 1922 describes his brial plot + adds some thoughts on Brown
S.Norris Two Men of Manxland: Hall-Caine Novelist, T.E.Brown - Poet Douglas:Norris Modern Press 1947
A. Quiller-Couch (ed) T.E.Brown A Memorial Volume 1830-1930 Cambridge Univ Press 1930 [although Quiller-Couch's name is on the essay it is actually by William Radcliffe -the essay is a lightly edited version of material that first appeared in the Ramsey Courier]
Selwyn G.Simpson T.E.Brown the Manx Poet: an Appreciation London:Walter Scott publishing Co. 1930
R. Tobias T.E.Brown Boston:G.K.Hall 1978 [excellent - well recommended if you can locate a copy]
D. Winterbottom T.E.Brown His Life and Legacy Douglas: The Manx Experience (ISBN 1-873120-29-X) 1997 - covers T.E.B's Clifton days very well - includes selected poems and writings plus a selective bibliography
M.K. Sutton The Drama of Storeytelling in T.E.Brown's Manx Yarns Univ of Delaware Press (0-87413-409-9)1991 [includes an extensive bibliography]
Dictionary of National Biography

A description of Clifton at the end of his stay is available.

 Manx Note Book Index


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2000