Townshend [originally ‘Townsend’], Chauncy [also Chauncey] Hare (1798–1868)
Poet and collector. Educated at Eton and Trinity Hall, Cambridge, where he won the Chancellor’s English medal in 1817 for a poem, ‘Jerusalem’. He was ordained but never took up a living. Determined on a poetic career, he wrote to Southey for advice. The latter encouraged his ambitions; Townshend visited Greta Hall and dedicated his Poems (1821) to the Poet Laureate. Several further volumes followed, including The Weaver’s Boy (a revised edition of the 1821 collection), The Reigning Vice: A Satirical Essay in Four Books (1827), Sermons in Sonnets (1851) and The Burning of the Amazon (1852). Townshend also wrote for periodicals, contributing to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, Household Words, and All the Year Round. His work for the latter two was a result of his friendship with Charles Dickens (1812–1870; DNB), with whom he shared an interest in mesmerism. Dickens dedicated Great Expectations to Townshend; the latter made Dickens his literary executor. On his death, Townshend, an avid collector, bequeathed his collections to the South Kensington Museum and the Wisbech and Fenland Museum, and his library to the latter. The bulk of his estate was used to endow a charity school offering free evening education to some 400 children over the age of thirteen.