The Bucks Advertiser and
Aylesbury News, May 1847, the local newspaper serving Tring, Massey's
home town. This article is a critical review of Massey's first published volume
of verse, 'ORIGINAL POEMS AND CHANSONS'.
Friend Of The People, April and May 1851. A two-part review of
Massey's recently published (and earliest surviving) collection, 'VOICES OF
FREEDOM AND LYRICS OF LOVE'. This review ― unattributed, but probably
by Julian Harney ― provides much of the background material on Massey that later
reviewers were to draw on.
Repository, August 1851. A brief comment on Massey's "poetic genius"
together with an early poem.
The Bucks Advertiser
and Aylesbury News, January 1853. A report in the local newspaper
serving Tring, Massey's home town, of two of his lectures
on 'MESMERISM', a subject on which he was to return to over the years.
Massey's first wife, Rosina, was a noted medium and it was through Rosina that
Massey developed his lifelong interest in spiritualism.
Athenĉum (No.1371), London, Saturday, February 4th
1854. William Hepworth Dixon reviews the 'BALLAD OF BABE CHRISTABEL, WITH OTHER LYRIC POEMS'
(London, David Bogue).
Instructor (1854). A 'portrait' of Massey by George Gilfillan based on
Masseys' Babe Christabel and other lyric poems. Gilfillan (1813-78)
a friend of de Quincy and Carlyle and a Presbyterian Minister (this article deterioratesinto pious sermonising)
was a highly influential critic during the
middle years of the 19th Century.
Harper's New Monthly Magazine, June to November 1854. Comments on 'POEMS AND BALLADS'
published by J. C. Derby, New York.
The Irish Quarterly Review,
Vol. V, 1855. 'POETS OF LABOUR' - following the biographical notes,
the reviewer draws some interesting comparisons between the life and poetry of
Massey and that of the Scottish artisan poet and radical journalist,
Robert Nicoll, concluding with a stark
warning, that politicians should listen and take heed!
Harper's New Monthly
Magazine, December 1854 to June 1855. Comments on 'WAR WAITS'.
The Ladies' Repository,
June, 1855. 'GERALD MASSEY, THE CHARTIST POET', a comprehensive
review of Massey's poetry (at that date) by the Rev. D. Curry, D.D.
The Athenĉum, October 1856. 'CRAIGCROOK
CASTLE', a generally encouraging review by the Athenĉum's then resident
music critic, Henry Fothergill Chorley.
Living Age, December 1856. A review of Massey's 'CRAIGCROOK
CASTLE' collection, then recently published in London by David Bogue.
Magazine, July 1857. Comments on an unidentified volume of Massey's
verse recently published by Ticknor and Fields of Boston (possibly 'THE
POETICAL WORKS OF GERALD MASSEY').
The North American
Review, July 1857. Comments on 'POEMS' by Charles Swain and on 'THE
POETICAL WORKS OF GERALD MASSEY'.
Poetical Works of Gerald Massey: pub. Boston, Ticknor and Fields, 1857.
'OPINIONS OF THE PRESS' - some comments reproduced at the rear of the
Magazine, July to January, 1857. An extract from....'WHAT IS POETRY?'
Burns: A Centenary Song, and other Lyrics - pub. London, W. Kent and
'OPINIONS OF THE PRESS' - some comments reproduced at the rear of the
Saturday Review, March 1859. 'ROBERT BURNS, A CENTENARY SONG;
AND OTHER LYRICS.' According to this critic "A certain narrowness of mind is inseparable from all self-taught
geniuses" - Robert Burns included. Some valid observations, but
overall a supercilious review.
Littell's Living Age, May 25, 1861. A review of the 'POETICAL WORKS OF GERALD
Athenĉum (No.1764), London, August 17th 1861. William
hepworth Dixon reviews 'HAVELOCK'S
MARCH; AND OTHER POEMS' (London, Trübner & Co.)
Athenĉum (No. 2009), London, April 28th, 1866.
William Hepworth Dixon's fair, if somewhat naïve review of Massey's 'Shakspeare's Sonnets never before Interpreted : his Private Friends Identified : together with a recovered Likeness of
Himself.' To Dixon the suggestion of a beautiful, worldly middle-aged
woman seducing a teen-age boy, or perhaps even the reverse, appear quite
unthinkable (...if this passion were genuine, it would be one of the
strangest aberrations of the heart on record).
London News, May 5, 1866. Shakspeare's Sonnets and his
Private Friends. A well-balanced and generally sympathetic review.
After giving some helpful pointers, the reviewer leaves the verdict to be
decided by a jury of Shakspearean "experts" and an "enlightened public."
and Queries, May 5, 1866. A brief review of Massey's interpretation, 'Shakspeare's
Sonnets, never before interpreted : his private Friends identified; together
with a recorded Likeness of himself '.
having read Massey's recently published book
on the Shakespeare's Sonnets, Professor Philarète Chasles (1798-1873), eminent French
critic and man of letters, writes to the Athenĉum
(Feb. 1867) about aspects of 'The Sonnets', referring to "some very
hard words against the small fry of sceptical critics who fail to chime in
with the author's [Massey's] settled opinions" - the inevitable
Massian broadside in response is not long in coming! Both articles
are re-published here.
Living Age, January-March 1867.
in Domestic Life' - ostensibly a review of 'Shakespeares
Sonnets, never before Interpreted; His Private Friends Identified:
together with a Recovered Likeness of Himself'. While the
reviewer says comparatively little some agreement, some disagreement about
this, Massey's first published volume of
conjectures on the circumstances of the Sonnets, the article provides an interesting contemporary view
of Shakespeare's life and times.
The Ladies Repository, May 1866.
'GERALD MASSEY', by Martha D. Hardie.
Review, August 1866. A reasonably argued - but unflattering - review
of 'SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS NEVER BEFORE INTERPRETED : HIS PRIVATE FRIENDS IDENTIFIED
: together with a recovered likeness of himself.'
September 1, 1866, to December 15, 1866. Comments on Massey's 'Shakespeare's Sonnets Never Before Interpreted'
appears to be an example of a review where its author has probably given the
book no more than cursory glance through, commenting on a subject
about which he knows little.
The Sun, 28 January,
1870. A generally favourably review of "A Tale of Eternity and other
Poems", although the paper's editor, Charles Kent, struggles at times to contain his
total lack of
sympathy for Massey's spiritualist convictions.
The Athenĉum, April
9th, 1870. A fairly superficial review of Massey's new collection, 'A TALE OF
ETERNITY AND OTHER POEMS'.
New Monthly Magazine, March 1870. Comments on Massey's newly published 'A
TALE OF ETERNITY'.
The Globe, 13 May 1872
(p.3), 'AMONG THE SPIRITUALISTS.' A report of an entertaining but,
so far as this critic was concerned, unconvincing lecture. This article
ties in with a report published some 20 years earlier in the
Human Nature, Vol. 6, April 1872. 'THE SECRET DRAMA OF SHAKESPEAR'S
SONNETS, BY GERALD MASSEY.' (The 1888 edition of this work is
Gerald Massey in Chicago: editorial
article, originally published in the Chicago Daily Times (Tuesday Feb.
17, 1874), on Massey's lecture on 'The Devil' given at Grow's Opera Hall.
Monthly, 1875. 'MINOR VICTORIAN POETS', a lengthy review of minor British
poets by the noted American literary critic Edmund C.
Stedman. Interesting for Stedman's short section on the
in which he's generally dismissive of Massey. [Part of the section dealing with the Chartist poets
originally appeared at the end of Part I, but has been transferred to Part II to bring the material
The Galaxy, 1876. W. C. BROWNELL's jaundiced views on the subject
of 'ENGLISH LECTURERS IN AMERICA.' Although Massey receives short shrift
(here), in this respect he's in good
company. His lecturing in the U.S.A. was sufficiently lucrative to justify three visits.
Human Nature, July 1874. 'THE
SERPENT SYMBOL: ITS
SPIRITUAL AND PHYSICAL SIGNIFICANCE.' This, the earliest
published account of Massey lecturing on a mythological subject, took
place at Boston, USA, in 1874. At that time Massey had not
researched his theme in depth, and the content still shows his opinions
as theistically influenced. He later presented this subject in
greater detail in his "Natural Genesis" (1883).
The Scotsman, May, 1881. A
highly sceptical review of Massey's newly published 'A BOOK OF THE BEGINNINGS'.
of Science, Vol. 3, June 1881: a review of the Preface to "The Book of Beginnings",
giving Massey's broad conclusions. "We
salute Mr. Massey as a fellow Evolutionist, though knowing nothing of
him save what we glean from these pages, and we trust his views will
meet with that impartial scrutiny which, we are sure, is all he demands."
The Quarterly Journal of Science, Vol. V., July 1883 (pp.414-8):
a review of "The Natural
Genesis", Vol. I: "Reluctantly breaking off our survey of this
remarkable book, we can merely hope that what we have said may at least
excite the curiosity of the reader, and lead him to inquire for himself.
We would, indeed, bespeak for Mr. Massey's work the earnest attention of
Evolutionists. To us it seems that he is turning the only position
of importance still held by our opponents, and that his movement, if
properly followed up, will be decisive."
Littell's Living Age,
August 18, 1883. An extract from 'HALF A CENTURY OF LITERARY LIFE'.
29 December, 1883: a short and sceptical review of Massey's 'THE
NATURAL GENESIS', the sole redeeming feature being to acknowledge that the
"immense amount of materials, and the collection must always have a value for
The Brooklyn Eagle, 10 February, 1884.
'SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS IN A NEW LIGHT'..... "so many literary folk have taken turns at the sonnets,
especially in the last fifty or sixty years, illuminating them with
darkness rather than light, explaining them opaquely by far fetched
theories, that Massey's generally direct, lucid method appears
exceptional." Junius Henri Browne.
Gerald Massey as an
Evolutionist, December, 1885. A short, well-balanced review from
the New York Tribune of
'THE NATURAL GENESIS'.
Medium and Daybreak,
June 18, 1886. Not so much a review as an advertisement for Massey's 'ELECTION
Medium and Daybreak,
September 10, 1886. 'MASSEY ON SHAKESPEARE AND BURNS.'
The Scotsman, 22 October, 1886.
A report of Massey lecturing on 'PAUL THE
GNOSTIC NOT A WITNESS FOR HISTORIC CHRISTIANITY.'
My Lyrical Life, Poems Old and New
(1889). 'A FEW OPINIONS': a collection of testimonials from such notables
as Ruskin and Arnold, reproduced as part of the introduction to this two volume
Saturday Review, August 31, 1889. 'REVIEWS. A REVIVED POET.'
Become a Spiritualist by all means, sympathise with Woman's Suffrage, even
support home rule for Ireland - but keep it to yourself, or else the caustic soda
Athenĉum, November 9, 1889. 'MY LYRICAL LIFE: POEMS OLD AND NEW.'
Presumably this reviewer never faced any difficulty in paying his household
bills, nor felt for those whose lives were dominated by the factory bell.
The Secret Drama of Shakspeare's Sonnets:
testimonials on Massey's analyses of the
Sonnets, reproduced as part of the introduction to his two volume set, 'My
Lyrical Life, Poems Old and New' (1889).
Monthly: May 1890. An extract from 'THE EASTER HARE' by Katharine
Medium And Daybreak: February 5, 1892. 'GERALD MASSEY ON SHAKESPEAR' - An
enthusiastic review of the 1890 edition of Massey's 'The Secret Drama of
Bookman: November 1897. 'MR. GERALD MASSEY AT HOME' - an
of Iceland in Later Poets: an extract from 'The Influence of Old Norse Literature upon English
Literature' by Conrad Hjalmar Nordby, 1901.
Poetry of Mr. Gerald Massey: By John
Churton Collins and published in 'STUDIES IN POETRY & CRITICISM' (1905). '.......His
revolutionary lyrics have done their work. The least that can be said for
them is, that they are among the very best inspired by those wild times when
Feargus O'Connor, Thomas Cooper, James [Bronterre] O'Brien and Ernest Jones were
in their glory. Of their effect in awakening and - making all
allowance for their intemperance and extravagance - in educating our infant
democracy and those who were to mould it there can be no question.'
and Thinker - Gerald Massey's Memories And His "Magnum
Opus"'. An interview with Massey shortly before his death in 1907.
A Short Critique of Gerald Masseys work on
Shakesapeares Sonnets by Ernie Wingeatt
". . . . what Masseys
research lacks is complete intellectual honesty and rigour. This is
emphasised when considering what Akrigg has to say at the end of his
study of Shakespeare and Southampton where he touches precisely on the
problems that a modern academic faces in achieving a truly objective
account of what took place historically. He notes the need for caution
by observing: all those warning uses of probably, apparently,
might and may which scholarly conscience requires are what he as a
scholar for a moment suspends in order to summarize the probable in
terms of the relationship between the two men.
What should matter about Massey and his ideas on Shakespeare is that
they be studied more for the worth of the understanding it gives to us
of the age in which he [Massey] lived, its view of the world and how he
[Massey] fits into that age, rather than for the work alone. There is a rich seam of
material here for the student of Victorian mores, the growth of English
Literature as a subject for academic study and the working mans part in
those things. . . ."