Poets’ Corner is a place of pilgrimage for literature lovers. Here, over 100 poets and writers are buried or have memorials. Many like William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters and Charles Dickens are famous worldwide.
Graves of Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy
Others, though popular in their day, are now less well known. The first poet to be buried here, in 1400, was Geoffrey Chaucer, author of ‘The Canterbury Tales’. Not because he was a poet but because he was Clerk of the King’s Works. Nearly 200 years later, Edmund Spenser (1553-1598) who wrote ‘The Faerie Queene’ for Elizabeth I, one of the longest poems in the English language, asked to be buried near Chaucer – perhaps with an eye on his own literary reputation.
And, so began a tradition of burials and memorials which continues to this day. The Deans of Westminster decide who receives a place based on merit though they consult widely. Poets’ Corner proper is in the eastern aisle, the ‘corner’, of the south transept, though over time some graves and memorials have spread across the transept. Recent memorials include Ted Hughes, CS Lewis and Philip Larkin.
Memorial to Ted Hughes
Memorial to C.S. Lewis
Memorial to Philip Larkin
Poets' Corner by James Wilkinson
At different times of the day, or in different seasons, the light falling in the Abbey will light up something that you have walked past a million times and never seen before.