Sir Philip Sydney.

Wilfred Heeley

General Description

Date: 1856
Genre: Prose essay


◦ Georgiana Burne–Jones, Memorials.

◦ MacDonald, F.W. In a Nook with a Book.

◦ Mackail, J. W. Life of William Morris .

Scholarly Commentary

Guest Editor: PC Fleming


This essay, the first entry in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, is by Wilfred Heeley (1833-1876). Heeley knew the Morris brotherhood through Henry MacDonald, and was the main Cambridge contributor to the magazine. Even before the first issue was published Heeley was preparing for the India Service exam, and though he contributed two pieces to the January issue, his only other contribution is the essay on Macaulay in March. He married in the summer of 1856, and he and his wife left for India in September, while the magazine was still in print.

Heeley’s article is unique among the essays in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine. The majority of the essays discuss contemporary figures, like Carlyle, Tennyson, and Alexander Smith, but Heeley deliberately chooses to look to the past. The opening paragraphs of the essay lament the nineteenth century’s “whirl of conflicting principles [and] tossing sea of theories and anachronisms” (1), and Heeley looks back to Elizabeth’s reign for a true English identity.

This essay is also unique in its focus. The other entries about earlier writers, like the essay on Robert Herrick and the four pieces on Shakespeare (1 2 3 4 ), focus on their works, but Heeley doesn’t even mention Sidney’s poetry. F.W. MacDonald tells of Heeley’s grand plans for this essay, which was “laid out on a scale that would seem to requite half a dozen others to bring it to completion.” MacDonald copied the second chapter of the essay for the press. (219).

The first part of the essay, published in January, gives a detailed genealogy of Sidney, and the second part tells of his boyhood, pausing to criticise contemporary education. It is unclear why the second part of this essay appeared in the March issue, rather than in February, though one supposes it was because Heeley did not write it fast enough. A note at the end of the February issue assures readers that the essay on Sidney will be continued in March.

Printing History

First printed in The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, 1856. The essay was printed in two parts, the first part in January and the second part in March.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: Heeley001.raw.xml