Symonds, John Addington

BORN 5 Oct 1840, Bristol - DIED 19 Apr 1893, Roma, Lazio
GRAVE LOCATION Roma, Lazio: Cimitero Acattolico, Via Caio Cestio 6 (Zona Vecchia, 15.8 (100))

Son of John Addington Symonds, M.D. (1807-1871), the author of "Criminal Responsibility" (1869) and other works. Young John's health was delicate and he was unremarkable at school. At Oxford he did better but after a scandal he left University and travelled in Switzerland and Italy.

In Switzerland he met Janet Catherine North, the sister of botanical artist Marianne North. They married in 1864 in Hastings, settled in London and had four daughters. In 1868 the young Normam Moor became his pupil and Symonds fell in love with him. Their affair lasted for four years but no sex was involved.

In 1872 he published "Introduction to the Study of Dante" and "Studies of the Greek Poets" followed (1873-1876). In 1880 "New and Old: A Volume of Verse" was published. His "Renaissance in Italy" was published in seven volumes between 1875 and 1886.

In 1877 he had fallen seriously ill. He recovered in Davos and continued to live there. There he wrote biographies of Shelley, Philip Sydney, Ben Jonson and Michelangelo. During the autumn he often resided in Rome with his friend Horatio F. Brown. He died in that city in 1893 and was buried close to Shelley.

His autobiographical papers were left to Brown who wrote a biography. Edmund Gosse stripped it of its homoerotic content before it was published. In 1926 Gosse came into posession of Symonds' papers and buried most of them. It wasn't before 2007 that his first work on homosexuality, "Soldier Love and Related Matter", was published.

Related persons
• wrote about Shelley, Percy Bysshe


The grave of John Addington Symonds at the Cimitero Acattolico, Rome.
Picture by Androom (23 Jan 2010)


The grave of John Addington Symonds at the Cimitero Acattolico, Rome.
Picture by Androom (23 Jan 2010)


Plaque for John Addington Symonds on Hill House in Clifton, Bristol.
Picture by Androom (25 May 2015)


• Daiches, David (ed.), The Penguin Companion to Literature 1, Penguin Books, 1971
Wikipedia (EN):

Szigeti, Joseph

Published: 07 Jun 2015
Last update: 06 Apr 2022