Image of Thomas Gray's Elegy on Tombstone


From Glory to the Grave:
A Collection of Thomas Gray's
Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
May 2006-SWC

     Thomas Gray (1716-1771) enjoyed a quiet life at Cambridge as a scholar of Greek and history.  Perhaps as early as 1742 he began a long meditative elegy.  Composed over several years, Gray completed his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard in 1750.  The source of his inspiration was Stoke Poges Church in England, in whose churchyard Gray now rests.
     First published early in 1751, the success of Gray’s Elegy was instantaneous and overwhelming, going through four editions in two months.  The sheer size of the collection, numbering over 100 different publications produced over a two hundred year period, proves the poem’s sustained popularity.  Many of these are gift books, which were purchased to mark a specific occasion, such as birthdays or Christmas.  Gray’s Elegy still enjoys an unusually wide and comprehensive audience.  In fact, it remains one of the most frequently quoted and best-known poems of the English language.

Thomas Gray Exhibit, May 2006-SWC
Curated by Bruce Cammack
Fabricated by Lyn Stoll

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