Robert Bloomfield was born in Honnington, Suffolk in 1766. His father was a poor tailor and his mother a teacher at the village school. As a boy he went to London and worked as a shoemaker after being found too frail to undertake farm work. He improved himself by attending meetings of Dissenters, and by reading 'the long and beautiful speeches of Burke, Fox, or North'.
He is now chiefly remembered as the author of 'The Farmer's Boy' (1800) which had come to the attention of Capel Lofft, who arranged for its publication with wood engravings by Thomas Bewick. Some 26,000 copies were sold in three years, and translations appeared in French, Italian, and Latin. Despite the prevailing enthusiasm for this type of rural poetry, Bloomfield was unable to repeat his success. Later works include 'Rural Tales' (1802), 'Good Tidings or News from the Farm' (1804), 'Wild Flowers' (1806) and 'The Banks of the Wye' (1811).
His last years were dogged by illness and partial blindness and in 1812 he moved out of London to Shefford where he died in 1823.
He is buried in All Saints Churchyard, Campton, where his gravestone may still be seen.
In The Heritage Library at Bedford Central there are a number of editions of "The Farmer's Boy" including a 2nd edition published in 1800. Also held are a number of editions of his other works including "Rural Tales" (1802), "Good Tidings or News from the Farm" (1804), "Wild Flowers" (1806), and his last poem published in 1822 a year before his death "May Day with the Muses".
Page last updated: 23rd January 2014