John Masefield
Born: 01 Jun, 1878
Died: 12 May, 1967
Field: Poet
Location in the Abbey: Poets corner
Type of memorial: Grave
Type of material: Stone

The ashes of poet and novelist John Masefield were buried in Poets' Corner Westminster Abbey on 20 June 1967. The grave adjoins that of Robert Browning. At his funeral the readings were given by C. Day Lewis and the address by Robert Graves. The inscription reads:

JOHN MASEFIELD O.M. 1878-1967 POET LAUREATE

Masefield was born at Ledbury in Herefordshire on 1 June 1878, son of Edward Masefield, a solicitor, and his wife Caroline (Parker). He was educated at Warwick School and trained as an officer in the merchant marine. At age 15 he went to sea and sailed around Cape Horn. But he was not a good sailor and jumped ship spending time in America. On returning to England he was a writer for a newspaper. During the 1914-18 war he served with the Red Cross. His Collected Poems was published in 1923 and in 1930 he was made Poet Laureate. He was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1935. His poems include Reynard the Fox and Dauber but he is perhaps best known as a poet of the sea, with poems such as Salt Water Ballads. This includes 'Sea Fever' - "I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by". His books include The Bird of Dawning and The Midnight Folk. In 1903 he married Constance de la Cherois Crommelin and they had a daughter Judith and son Lewis who was killed in the second world war. He died on 12 May 1967.

A photo of the stone can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

"John Masefield. A Life" by Constance Babington Smith, 1978

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004.

"John Masefield" by Muriel Spark, 1962.