William Barnes was a Dorset dialect poet and artist. An extremely learned man with knowledge of many languages, he worked for some time as a schoolteacher, running his own schools with his wife, before being ordained into the Church of England.

He is admired for the freshness and vigour of his depictions of the countryside of Dorset, and for his insights into the lives and customs of the people of the county. His use of dialect reflects his fascination with language and his belief in honouring and preserving local dialect.

He published Poems of Rural Life in the Dorset Dialect in 1844 and Homely Rhymes in 1859, by which time he was highly respected by major poets of the period. He wrote in standard English as well as in dialect, but he is now best remembered for the dialect poems that capture the life and language of rural Dorset.

Poems by William Barnes

My orcha’d In Linden Lea

Read by Andrew Motion
My orcha’d In Linden Lea - William Barnes - Read by Andrew Motion

Books by William Barnes

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