Manx Poet

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T. E. Brown and the T. E. Brown Stained Glass Window at the Manx Museum

Thomas Edward Brown (1830 – 1897)

T.E. Brown was the national poet of the Isle of Man, he was born in Douglas and brought up in Kirk Braddan Vicarage where he was educated by his father until he was 15, he then attended King Williams College. He then went up to Oxford and gained Firsts in Classics, Law and History.  In 1853 he was elected Fellow of Oriel and in 1856 became Vice-Principal of King Williams College.  In 1864 he was appointed second master at Clifton, Bristol where he remained until he retired in 1892.  He then moved back to the Isle of Man and settled in Ramsey.

While at Clifton Brown wrote many poems, both lyrical and narrative, the latter being richly descriptive of Manx People and strongly dialectal.  These are included in his ‘fo’c’s’le Yarns’ beginning with ‘Betsy Lee’.  He died in 1897 on a return visit to Clifton.

The Manx Museum has a dedicated area to T. E. Brown which includes this bust by Joseph Swynnerton and this stained glass window which was designed by William Hoggett to display Manx Characters created by Brown.

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TE Brown © Peter Killey - www.manxscenes.com

TE Brown © Peter Killey - www.manxscenes.com

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High up in Tholt y Will Plantation in Sulby you will find these crofters ruins which was the setting of a poem by T.E. Brown, called ‘Kitty of the Sherragh Vane’, an extract of this famous Manx Poem is below;

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Sherragh Vane © Peter Killey - www.manxscenes.com

Well, I tell ye, the first time ever I seen her,
She wasn’ much more till a baby –
six years, maybe,would have been her age;
and the little clogs at her,
clitter-clatter,
and her little hand
in mine, to show me the way, you’ll understand,
down yander brew,
and me a stranger too,
that was lost on the mountain;
And the little sowl in the house all alone,
and for her to be goin
the best part of a mile –
bless the chile!
Till she got me right –
and not a bit shy, not her
Nor freckened, but talkin away as purty
as a woman of thirty-
And-“That’s the way down to the School,” says she,
“and Saul and me is goin there every day;
you’ll easy find the way! –
and turns, and off like a bird on the wing,
Aw, a bright little thing.
 
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