Coventry Kersey Dighton Patmore was a librarian, author and poet. He was the eldest son of Peter George Patmore, a literary journalist, and Eliza Robertson. In 1847 he married his first wife Emily Augusta Andrews. Together they have six children: Milnes (b. 1848), Tennyson (b. 1850), Emily Honoria (1853), Bertha (b. 1856), Gertrude (1858), Henry John (b. 1860. However, she died in 1862 and in 1864 Patmore married his second wife Marianne Caroline Byles. Following her death in 1880, he married Harriet Robson, Emily's friend and his children's governess, in 1881. They had one child, Francis (b. 1883).
Patmore, a librarian by profession, became famous as a religious poet. He was brought up an Anglican, but in 1864 converted to Roman Catholicism. Francis Thompson described him as 'the greatest genius of the century.' He is most well known for his poem The Angel of the House ('The Betrothal', 1854; 'The Espousals, 1856; 'Faithful for Ever', 1860; 'Victories of Love', 1863), a celebration of married life. He published his first volume of poetry in 1844 and in 1845 began contributing to periodical literature. In 1846 he received an appointment at the British Museum through Monckton Milnes.
Patmore's home was a meeting-place for writers and artists. He was particularly close in the late 1840s and early 1850s to the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and contributed to their journal, The Germ, in 1850. John Everett Millais's painting The Woodman's Daughter (1851; Guildhall Art Gallery) was based on a poem by Patmore. Patmore was in correspondence with John Ruskin from 1844 until 1872, and it was he who encouraged the critic to speak out in the Times in 1851 in defence of the Pre-Raphaelite group.
Patmore, Coventry, Poems, London, 1844; Patmore, C., Tamerton Church-Tower, London, 1853; Patmore, C., Unknown Eros, London, 1877-78; Patmore, C., Principle in Art, London, 1889; Patmore, C., Religio Poetae, London, 1893; Patmore, C., The Rod, the Root, and the Flower, London, 1895.
Sussman, Herbert, Coventry Patmore, Boston, 1981; Bowness, A., The Pre-Raphaelites, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London, 1984.