Masefield was born in Hertfordshire.  Both his parents died when he was young. He was educated at Warwick School and became a Merchant Seaman, joining HMS Conway.  He deserted the navy in 1895 and spent time in the USA in various employments.  In 1903 he married Constance de la Cherois Crommelin. They had two children.  From 1937 he was President of the Society of Authors, and of the National Book league, 1944 – 1949. He formed friendships with W.B. Yeats and J.M. Synge. He received honorary doctorates from Yale and Harvard Universities as well as numerous other awards.  Masefield declined the offer of a Knighthood more than once.  In 1930 Masefield became Poet Laureate and he was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1935. He enjoyed and promoted live poetry readings. His ashes reside in Westminster Abby.  

As well as poetry, he wrote plays, novels and essays. His play The Tragedy of Nan, 1909, attracted mixed reviews.  Masefield’s novels include Lost Endeavour (1910) and The Bird of Dawning (1933). He was a prolific letter writer and in later years produced memoirs. He authored much loved children’s books including The Midnight Folk (1927) and The Box of Delights (1935). 

Early poetry publications include The Everlasting Mercy, 1911 and Dauber in 1913.  Reynaud the Fox, one of his most popular poems, was published in1919.  He is well known for his poems about the sea including Salt Water Ballads, 1902, and Ballards, 1903, followed by  (Salt Walter Poems and Ballads, Macmillan, 1916)  A first edition of his Collected Poems was published in 1923 by Wlliam Heinemann. 

Poems by John Masefield

Coronation Ode / A Prayer for the King’s Reign - John Masefield