Clare’s Shepherd’s Calendar

After the success of his first two collections of verse in 1820 and 1821, John Clare began to develop a more distinctive and confident poetic voice, and to work up several ambitious plans for publication, despite unfavourable commercial conditions. The Shepherd’s Calendar, eventually published in 1827, is his most sustained project, a series of linked monthly poems in diverse forms, each recording aspects of rural life and labour as the year progresses.

Journal•Lists offers the opportunity to celebrate the arrival of each new month in 2016 with a fresh instalment of Clare’s powerful chronicle of a year in the life of a village on the edge of the Fens: its landscape through the changing seasons, its flora and fauna, its diverse and sometimes brutal agricultural labour, its rich family life. This is one of England’s most captivating and authoritative poetic voices.

Readers are encouraged to consult the website of the Centre for John Clare Studies at the University of Cambridge for information about scholarly editions and critical discussions of the text.

The Shepherd’s Calendar is guest curated for Journal•Lists by Paul Chirico, founding chair of the John Clare Trust and author of John Clare and the Imagination of the Reader.


John Clare’s Shepherd’s Calendar begins on 1 January 2016.

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If you’re already a member of Journal•Lists you can sign up for The Shepherd’s Calendar by clicking “update subscription preferences” at the end of any Journal•Lists email (or just enter your details again via the above link).