This Goodly Land
Sidney Lanier (February 3, 1842–September 7, 1881)
Other Names Used
- Sidney Clopton Lanier: full name
- Point Clear, Baldwin County: brief adult residence
- Montgomery, Montgomery County: brief adult residence
- Prattville, Autauga County: brief adult residence
- Lanier, Sidney. Tiger-Lilies. New York: Hurd and Houghton, 1867. Rpt. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1969. An online version of Tiger Lilies is available from Wright American Fiction, 1851-1875.
- Lanier, Sidney. Florida: Its Scenery, Climate, and History. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1875. Rpt. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1973. An online version of Florida is available from Google Books.
- Lanier, Sidney. Poems. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1877. An online version of Poems is available from Internet Archive’s American Libraries.
- Lanier, Sidney. The Science of English Verse. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1880. Rpt. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1908. Rpt. Folcroft, Pa.: Folcroft Library Editions, 1979. An online version of The Science of English Verse is available from Google Books.
- Lanier, Sidney. The English Novel and the Principle of Its Development. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1883. Rpt. as The English Novel: A Study in the Development of Personality. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1897. An online version of The English Novel is available from Google Books.
- Lanier, Sidney. Poems of Sidney Lanier. Ed. Mary Day Lanier. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1884. Rpt. New York: Scribner, 1891. Rpt. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999. An online version of Poems of Sidney Lanier is available from Making of America.
- Lanier, Sidney. Shakepere [sic] and His Forerunners: Studies in Elizabethan Poetry and Its Development from Early English. Ed. Henry Wysham Lanier. New York: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1902. Rpt. New York: AMS Press, 1966. An online version of Shakespere and His Forerunners is available from Google Books.
- Lanier, Sidney. Hymns of the Marshes. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1907. An online version of Hymns of the Marshes is available from Google Books.
Sidney Lanier was born and grew up in Macon, Ga. As a child, he learned to play five instruments and enjoyed Romantic poetry and stories of medieval chivalry. Lanier attended Oglethorpe College and graduated in 1860. When the Civil War broke out, Lanier enlisted in the Macon Volunteers, serving in Virginia and North Carolina. In late 1864, he became a prisoner of war but was paroled home the following spring, having contracted tuberculosis at some point. He accepted a teaching position near Macon that fall but had to quit due to poor health. After recuperating in Point Clear, Ala., Lanier joined his brother Clifford in Montgomery, Ala., where they worked as clerks in their grandfather’s hotel. His novel, Tiger-Lilies, was published in 1867. That fall, Lanier became principal of an academy in Prattville, Ala. His health worsened, but he managed to finish the school year. Lanier began reading law and clerking in his father’s office. He passed the bar and practiced briefly, but his illness interfered with a law career, and his support and that of his family was largely borne by relatives.
In the fall of 1873, Lanier accepted a position as a flute player with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra in Baltimore, Md. When the season ended, he returned to Georgia and spent the summer writing. He received a commission to write a guidebook on Florida, which paid well but required a great deal of travel. Lanier played with the Peabody orchestra for several seasons, but ill health prevented him from doing so in 1876. He returned to Baltimore the following fall, however, accompanied by his family. In addition to playing with the orchestra, he taught school and gave paid lectures. Lippincott published his Poems in 1877. Shortly thereafter, Lanier contracted with Scribner’s to edit a children's version of Froissart’s medieval chronicles. The Boy’s Froissart, published in 1879, was very successful, and Lanier edited three additional volumes of similar tales. In the fall, Johns Hopkins University made him a Lecturer in English Literature. He continued his orchestra work, his other lectures, and his writing. His condition worsened despite a reduced lecture schedule the following year. Lanier spent the summer of 1881 in the mountains hoping to restore his health. He died in September near Lynn, N.C., and was buried in Baltimore. Collections of his poems and essays were published posthumously by family members.
Interests and Themes
Sidney Lanier believed that music and poetry are strongly related and are ruled by similar laws. He also believed that literature should express and evoke emotion and should teach moral lessons. He expounded on these beliefs in his essays, and they influenced his poems and his novel.
For More Information
Please check your local library for these materials. If items are not available locally, your librarian can help you borrow them through the InterLibrary Loan program. Your librarian can also help you find other information about this author.
There may be more information available through the databases in the Alabama Virtual Library. If you are an Alabama citizen, AVL can be used at your public library or school library media center. You can also get a username and password from your librarian to use AVL at home.
- Clarke, George Herbert. Some Reminiscences and Early Letters of Sidney Lanier. Macon, Ga.: J. W. Burke Co., 1907. An online version of Some Reminiscences and Early Letters is available from Internet Archive’s American Libraries.
- De Bellis, Jack. Sidney Lanier. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1972.
- Gabin, Jane S. A Living Minstrelsy: The Poetry and Music of Sidney Lanier. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1985.
- Lanier, Sidney. Letters of Sidney Lanier: Selections from His Correspondence, 1899-1881. Ed. Henry Wysham Lanier. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1899. Rpt. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1972. An online version of Letters of Sidney Lanier is available from Google Books.
- Lorenz, Lincoln. The Life of Sidney Lanier. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc., 1935.
- Mims, Edwin. Sidney Lanier. Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1905. Rpt. Port Washington, N.Y.: Kennikat Press, 1968. An online version of Sidney Lanier is available from Google Books.
- Parks, Edd Winfield. Sidney Lanier: The Man, the Poet, the Critic. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1968.
- Starke, Aubrey Harrison. Sidney Lanier: A Biographical and Critical Study. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1933. Rpt. New York: Russell & Russell, 1964.
- Webb, Richard, and Edwin R. Coulson. Sidney Lanier: Poet and Prosodist. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1941.
- Abernethy, Cecil. "Lanier in Alabama". Alabama Review 17.1. (1964): 5-21.
Reference Web Sites
Location of Papers
- Duke University
- Florida State University
- Johns Hopkins University
Photo from Letters of Sidney Lanier, 1902.
Last updated on Oct 10, 2009.