Croker, John Wilson (1780–1857)

Irish Protestant politician and writer. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and called to the Irish Bar in 1802. In 1807 he was elected MP for Downpatrick and became Secretary to the Admiralty 1809–1830. He was a close friend of Wellington and, particularly, of Peel. Croker was a prolific writer of light verse and often acted as an intermediary between the government and the literary world – he played a key role in making changes to Southey’s early Odes as Poet Laureate. He also contributed regularly to the Quarterly Review, where his hostile review of Keats’s Endymion was alleged to have hastened the poet’s death. In the 1830s and 1840s he was seen as one of Peel’s key supporters and was satirised in both Disraeli’s Coningsby and Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. Southey admired some of Croker’s verse, but his attitude was tinged with reserve, as he was well aware of Croker’s connections and influence in literary and political life.

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