This book title derives from Henleys most famous poem Invictus, which has been used as the name of a Hollywood film and for the International Paralympic Games sport event created by Britains Prince Harry. The poems stanzas have been popularised by Winston Churchill, Aung San Suu Ky and President Obama, and used to literary effect by C S Lewis, Oscar Wilde and in Casablanca. But this fine short lyric has unfortunately overshadowed Henleys other considerable literary output. Henley was the archetypal Man of Letters -- a poet, reviewer, essayist, journalist, historian and newspaper hack. His friendships with Robert Louis Stevenson, J M Barrie, and Yeats places him at the centre of the Victorian literary milieu. As editor of the National Observer he published writers as diverse as Kipling, Shaw, Hardy and Wells. He promoted new forms of expression in literature and art, and was a close friend of Rodin and Degas. The book reproduces key essays which relate to Henleys thinking on poetry, poets and the writing process, as well as his early and late poetry (some only recently discovered and attributed), unpublished verses, ephemera appearing in manuscript archives and important unpublished (often anonymous) essays. A scholarly introduction and critical notes serve to explain the significance of his poetry, the provenance of the material, and provide a context for his literary work in relation to historical events. Henley is often referenced in literary criticism, but until now has not been subject to book-length critical review. John Howlett set outs the case for his significance as a poet and writer in the context of Henleys central role in the publishing direction of Victorian literature.
John Howlett is a lecturer in Education Studies at the University of Keele. His recent books include Progressive Education: A Critical Introduction (Bloomsbury, 2013) and Edmond Holmes and Progressive Education (Routledge, 2016). His other main research interest is in Victorian and twentieth-century poetry: he has edited scholarly editions of the poetry of Edmond Holmes (Farleigh Dickenson University Press, 2016) and Clere Parsons (Shoestring Press, forthcoming 2017).