Walter Pater

Walter Pater

Table of Contents


Walter Pater was born on August 4, 1839 to Richard Glode Pater and Maria Hill in Shadwell, East London. His father was a physician and Walter was the second of four children, his siblings were William Thompson (1835-1887), Hester Maria (1837-1922), and Clara Ann (1841-1910). Richard Pater died on January 28, 1842 and the family moved to Chase Side, Enfield. Pater attended Enfield Grammar school until 1853 when he enrolled at King’s School Cantebury. In 1858 Walter entered Queen’s College, Oxford as a commoner with an exhibition (worth sixty pounds a year for three years) from King’s College Cantebury. Maria Pater had died on February 25, 1854. At Oxford Pater read classics and was influenced by Ruskin. In 1859 he spent his vaction in Germany, returning to Oxford in October. In early 1861 Pater prepared a weekly paper for Benjamin Jowett, professor of Greek (later master of Balliol). By 1862 Pater had graduated with a BA (second class honours) in Literae Humaniores, he subsequently remained in Oxford to study with private pupils (Charles Lancelot Shadwell who later became fellow andd provost of Oriel was one). On December 28, 1862, Walter’s aunt Hester E. M. Pater (Aunty Bessy) died. She had taken his sisters with her to Heidelberg to complete their education and Walter had spent Christmas with them in 1858. Pater was elected to Old Mortality, an essay society in Oxford and on February 5, 1864 he was chosen as a probationary fellow of Brasenose College where he lived, taught and wrote for the most of his life.

Pater spent 1864 in Paris with his sisters and journeyed to Italy with Shadwell in 1865, stopping at Ravenna, Pisa and Florence. In 1867, Pater became a lecturer at Brasenose. He left London in August for about five weeks to travel abroad, by 1869 he had settled with his sisters (Hester and Clara) in a house on Bradmore Road in Oxford. In 1876, three years after the first publication of The Renaissance, Pater was caricatured as the Decadent “Mr. Rose” in W. H. Mallock’s satire The New Republic. In 1878 he lectured at Oxford on classical archeology, perhaps the first time the subject was taught at the college. In 1882 he went to Italy again, this time visiting Rome. In 1883 he resigned his post at Brasenose and in 1885 he moved with his siters to 12 Earl’s Terrace Kensington, London, though he lived at Oxford during the academic term. In 1893 he moved back to Oxford, where he lived at 64 St. Giles until his death on July 30, 1894.

Works published during his lifetime

  • 1866: Coleridge’s Writings published anonymously in Westminster Review (January)
  • 1867: Winckelmann published anonymously in January issue of Westminster Review
  • 1868: Poems by by William Morris published anonymously in October’s Westminster Review
  • 1869: Notes on Leanardo da Vinci published in the November Fortnightly Review
  • 1870: A fragment on Sandro Botticelli printed in August Fortnightly Review
  • 1871: Pico della Mirandula, October Fortnightly Review
  • 1871: The Poetry of Michelangelo, November Fortnightly Review
  • 1872: Review of Sidney Colvin’s Children in Italian and English Design in Academy (July 15)
  • 1873: Studies in he History of the Rennaissance, published February 15
  • 1874: On Wordsworth in April’s Fortnightly Review
  • 1874: A Fragment on Measure for Measure, November’s Fortnightly Review
  • 1875: Review of John Addington Symond’s Renaissance in Italy: The Age of the Despots (1875) in Academy (July 31)
  • 1877: The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry (2nd edition) published May 24 [the Conclusion dropped and The School of Giorgione added]
  • 1877: The School of Giorgione in October’s Fortnightly Review
  • 1885: Marius the Epicurean published on March 4
  • 1887: Imaginary Portraits published on May 24
  • 1888: The Renaissance (3rd edition) published in January [a revised version of the Conclusion reintegrated]
  • 1889: Appreciations published on November 15
  • 1893: Plato and Platonism published on February 10

Posthumous publications

  • 1895: Greek Studies: A series of Essays published Janury 11
  • 1895: Miscellaneous Studies: A Series of Essays published October 11
  • 1896: Gaston de Latour: An Unfinished Romance published on October 6
  • 1896: Essays from “The Guardian”
  • 1900-1901: The Works of Walter Pater, Edition de Luxe, published in 8 vols. The Renaissance (vol. I) printed in Spetember 1900
  • 1910: The Works of Walter Pater, New Library Edition (10 vols.) The Renaissance (vol. I) appeared in June.
  • 1919: Sketches and Reviews (New York)
  • 1970: The Letters of Walter Pater, L. Evans editor (Oxford)
  • 1974: Selected Writings of Walter Pater edited and with an introduction by Harold Bloom; Columbia University Press, New York
  • 1980: The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry, The 1893 Text edited, with textual and explanatory notes, by Donald L. Hill (illustrations)

Critical Bibliography

  • W. H. Mallock, The New Republic, London, 1877. Pater portrayed as the decadent Mr. Rose.
  • Oscar Wilde, review of Imaginary Portraits in The Pall Mall Gazette, June 11, 1887
  • Oscar Wilde, review of Appreciations in The Speaker, March 22, 1890
  • Arthur Symons, Studies in Two Literatures, London, 1897
  • A. C. Benson, Walter Pater, London 1906
  • George Saintsbury, History of English Prose Rhythm, London, 1912
  • J. S. Harrison, Pater, Heine and the Old Gods of Greece in Publications of the Modern Language Association XXXIX, 1924
  • T. S. Eliot, The Place of Pater in The Eighteen-Eighties, edited by Walter de la Mare, Cambridge, 1930
  • R. C. Child, The Aesthetic of Pater, New York, 1946
  • Graham Hough, The Last Romantics, London 1949
  • Frank Kermode, Romantic Image, London, 1957
  • Rene Wellek, A History of Modern Criticism, 1750-1950, New Haven, 1955-1966
  • Wolfgang Iser, Walter Pater: Die Autonomie des Dsthetischen, Tblingen: Niemeyer, 1960. Translated by David Henry Wilson as Walter Pater: The Aesthetic Moment, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge Univesity Press, 1987
  • R. T. Lenaghan, Pattern in Pater’s FictionStudies in Philology, XVIII, 1961
  • A. Ward, Walter Pater: The Idea in Nature, London, 1965
  • G. C. Monsman, Pater’s Portraits, Baltimore, 1967
  • G. Levine and W. Madden, editors The Art of Victorian Prose, New York, 1968
  • D. J. deLaura, Hebrew and Hellene in Victorian England, Austin, 1969
  • Richard Ellmann, Overtures to Salome, in Oscar Wilde:A Collection of Critical Essays, editor Ellmann, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ, 1969
  • J. B. Gordon, The Imaginary Portrait: Fin de Siècle Icon, in The Windsor Magazine, 1970
  • Harold Bloom, Yeats, New York, 1970. Contains a chapter titled Late Victorian Poetry and Pater
  • Harold Bloom, The Ringers in the Tower: Studies in Romantic Tradition, Chicago, 1971
  • Ian Fletcher, Walter Pater, Harlow Essex, 1971. Revised version (first published 1959)
  • Perry Meisel, The Absent Father: Virginia Woolf and Walter Pater, New Haven and London, 1980
  • Janice and Robert Keefe, Walter Pater and the Gods of Disorder, 1988
  • Comparative Criticism 17, contains a section entitled Walter Pater and the culture of fin-de-siecle.

Electronic Texts

Critical material

And now, we let Pater speak for himself…

Only the following essays are currently available here:

The Knitting Circle’s page on Pater

Further information on E-Texts is available through Computer Advocacy @ NYU.