Biography of George Crabbe

Portrait of George Crabbe

George Crabbe was an eighteenth century cleric and writer.

When and Where was he Born?

24th December 1754, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England.

Family Background:

Crabbe was the eldest son of George Crabbe, a local customs official, parish clerk and schoolmaster.


Schools in Bungay and Stowmarket in Norfolk. Apprenticed to a Surgeon at age 14.

Timeline of George Crabbe:

1767: Crabbe takes a job with his father as a labourer at the docks at Slaughden Quay to the South of Aldeburgh.

1768: He becomes apprenticed to two apothecaries and surgeons in Suffolk and becomes interested in botany and poetry.

1772: He meets Sarah Elmy in Woodbridge, Suffolk and begins a long courtship. HE publishes his first poems.

1775: The poem “Inebriety” is published anonymously at Ipswich. He returns to Aldeburgh to work briefly at the docks and then sets himself up as a “doctor”. He continues to study natural history and poetry.

1776: He studies obstetrics and medicine.

1777: Crabbe visits London.

 1779: The first Draft of “The Library” is written.

1780: He leaves Aldeburgh for London. “The Candidate” is published anonymously in August. Death of his mother.

1781: Crabbe writes to Edmund Burke in a desperate attempt to find patronage. He is introduced to Charles James Fox and Sir Joshua Reynolds. Burke also secures him the the post of the Rector of Aldeburgh.

1782: He becomes the chaplain to the Duke of Rutland at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire.

1783: Crabbe first publishes “The Village”. He marries Sarah Elmy after an eleven year engagement.

1784: Birth and death of his first child.

1785: Crabbe publishes “The Newspaper”. He becomes a curate at Stathern, Leicestershire. Birth of his son George.

1786: Death of his father.

1789: He becomes curate of West Allington in Lincolnshire and then Muston in Leicestershire.

1792: He moves to Parham in Suffolk to live in property inherited by his wife.

1795: He publishes “Natural History of the Vale of Belvoir” in “The History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester”.

1796: Sarah begins to suffer from nervous problems.

1804: He begins writing “The Borough”.

1805: The Bishop of Leicester forces him to move back to Muston after a thirteen year absence. 

1807: He destroys many of his poems and novels in this period which he thought were not up to standard but those which survived, such as “The Parish Register” and “The Birth of Flattery” were published.

1812: He publishes “Tales in Verse”.

1813: Death of George Crabbe’s wife Sarah.

1814: He moves to Trowbridge in Wiltshire as Rector. He is briefly engaged to Charlotte Ridout. Over the next few years he visits Bath, Suffolk, London and Edinburgh. He meets Southey and Wordsworth who admire his work in London and also visits Sir Walter Scott in Edinburgh.

1816: His son, now married, becomes his curate at Trowbridge.

 1819: George Crabbe publishes “Tales of the Hall” in two volumes.

 1822: He published “The Works of the Reverend George Crabbe” in seven volumes.

When and Where did he Die?

3rd February 1832, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England from complications after contracting a severe cold.

Age at Death:


Written Works:

1780: “The Candidate”.
1781: “The Library”.
1783: “The Village”.
1785: “The Newspaper”.
1807: “Poems”.
1812: “The Borough”. (Peter Grimes appears in an Opera by Benjamin Britten)
1812: “Tales in Verse”
1819: “Tales of the Hall”.
(1834): “Posthumous Tales”.


1783 to Sarah Elmy after an eleven year engagement. (Died 1813).

Site of Grave:

St. James’s Church, Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

Places of Interest:


Belvoir Castle.


The British Library.