Keepsake Author Mystery
A Legend of Killarney is a narrated two day boat trip through some of the most beautiful lakes of Ireland, surrounded by majestic mountains. It reveals the True Romantic spirit of its author Thomas Haynes Bayly and brings forth many of the romantic themes of the period – the perceptive poetic soul, finding the restorative power of Nature, the echoing Spirits of Myths and Legends buried in folk tradition and rediscovered by the lonely poet. The Legend retold in the second part of the story brings forth the early romanticism fascination with the gothic tradition of Ghosts, spirits, Fairies, unnatural phenomenon, punishment, repentance etc.
In the portrayal of the English “college lad”, “pale and thin, what…the ladies call interesting”, Thomas Bayly seems to describe himself. Born in Bath, England on October 13, 1797, the only child of well connected nobility, he shows interest in poetry at a very early age and being looked at as someone with “versatile genius” continues his studies at Oxford. However, his preference, life outside the college walls, terminates his academic career. After a brief but tragic experience of tending for the dying brother of the girl he would fall in love with but would not be allowed to marry, he moves to Scotland and later to Dublin. Like many other striving poets of the Romantic era he will feel free outside England to write and seek recognition, Outlines of Edinburgh, and other Poems are published in 1822. The beginning of his career is in Bath where he writes satirical verse epistles under a pseudonym-“Q in the Corner”, (another similarity with the hero in the Legend of Killarney). His reputation as a Lyric poet and song writer makes him “sought after at soirees” and after meeting and marrying an admirer, Helena Beecher Hayes, he enjoys privileged life for awhile, one of his most famous of many songs, “I’d be a butter fly born in a bower” being written at Lord Ashton’s villa near Southampton. The fashionable social gatherings he lavishly puts for the Bath nobility does not help the resentment of his first anonymously published novel, The Aylmers (1827) in which he satirically depicts some of his friends. Determined to succeed as a playwright he moves to London and his farce play Perfection runs eighteen times. Well off for a while, badly handled investments push him to become dependent on his writing after 1831 and his mental and physical health take a toll. Though published and admired throughout his career, the more complete collection of his songs will be the work of Mrs. Bayly after his death. Nathaniel Thomas Haynes Bayly dies from jaundice on April 22, at the age of forty-one and his recognition by the literary and theatrical circles will come as monetary grand benefiting his family and bestowed before his death. Julia Murphy
Work cited: John Russell Stephens, “Bayly, Nathaniel Thomas Haynes (1797-1839)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Oct 2006