Document Type

Research Paper



Pub Date



School of Advanced Study

Place of Publication

London, UK

Journal Article URL

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


"I find myself the keeper of a modest flame that burns (in Shelley’s image) barely brighter than a taper through the night of time. That flame marks the remnants of a nearly forgotten Victorian poet, Sidney A. Alexander (1866-1948), who won the 1887 Newdigate prize as a student at Oxford. Some of his other youthful poems after Oxford he did publish, and his name is recorded in the literary history of England.1 But Alexander moved from the muses to Christ, and became a canon at St. Paul’s Cathedral, remembered for his impressive work on behalf of the great Wren edifice, especially for protecting it during World War II. At his death, he left behind a body of religious and other books and essays, plus a notebook of his poems, mostly unpublished fair copies. Besides those he had placed in Victorian magazines, he seems to have had a plan to publish others.

My responsibilities as keeper began when I bought the notebook from an English book-dealer, Charles Cox, in 2008 for £70. Alexander’s works, appearing here for the first time in full, may not greatly shift the outlines of Victorian poetry. But they are respectable (and often more) — and are interesting as the work between 1881 and 1890 of a young man with a good education and a poetic talent and vocation. At a minimum, the poems are a cultural marker of some largely traditionalist poetic sensibilities in the 1880’s..."