John Critchley Prince
John Critchley Prince (1808–1866) was an English labouring-class poet. His Hours of the Muses went through six editions.
Born at Wigan, Lancashire, on 21 June 1808, Primce was the son of a poor reed-maker for weavers. He learned to read and write at a Baptist Sunday school, and at age 9 of age was set to help his father, with whom he worked for ten years, living in Wigan, Manchester and Hyde, Cheshire.
Towards the end of 1826 or beginning of 1827, before he was 19, Prince married. In 1830 he went to St. Quentin in Picardy to look for work; but the revolution of July 1830 disrupted his plans, and after two months he made his way via Paris to Mülhausen, where again he was disappointed. He return on foot to Calais, Dover and Manchester, where he found his wife and children in the Wigan poorhouse.
In 1840 Prince brought out Hours with the Muses, with the help of a prominent patron. It attracted attention partly because he was a factory operative at Hyde at the time. He gave up that work, and for a time kept a small shop in Manchester. His life from that point did not go well, however: he tried to live mainly by selling his poems, and took to drink. He had a grant from the royal bounty, and from 1845 to 1851 he was salaried editor of the Ancient Shepherd's Quarterly Magazine, published at Ashton-under-Lyne.
Prince died at Hyde on 5 May 1866, and was buried at St. George's Church there; one daughter survived him.
Prince began to write verse in 1827, and from the following year he was an occasional contributor to the Phœnix and other local periodicals. In 1841 he took part in a short-lived "Literary Association" which met at the Sun Inn, Manchester, and next year he undertook a journey on foot to London, recording his impressions and experiences in a series of letters to Bradshaw's Journal, edited by George Falkner.
Besides the Hours with the Muses, of which six editions were issued between 1840 and 1857, Prince published:
- Dreams and Realities, Ashton-under-Lyne, 1847.
- The Poetic Rosary, Manchester, 1850.
- Autumn Leaves, Hyde, 1856.
- Miscellaneous Poems, 1861.
A collected edition of his poetical works was published, in two volumes, by Robert Alexander Douglas-Lithgow in 1880.
Prince married his first wife, surname Orme, at Hyde. She died in September 1858, and married again in March 1862. His second wife, Ann Taylor, was about his own age.
Attribution This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Prince, John Critchley". Dictionary of National Biography. 46. London: Smith, Elder & Co.