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Lewis, Joseph

First Name: 
Joseph
Last Name: 
Lewis
Sex: 
Male
Nationality: 
Welsh?
Education: 
elementary education may have been provided by Sir John Philipps
Profession or Occupation: 
artisan; described in 1754 as ‘an illiterate raw Lad … a mechanic’ and later as ‘a poor ivory-turner’
editor of the Westminster Magazine, under the pseudonym Lancelot Poverty-Struck 1750-1751
married by 1752
poet
Milieux: 
working-class poet
Patrons: 
petitioned David Garrick for money
Periodicals & Misc Contributed To: 
several of his poems in Westminster Magazine 1750–51 under the pseud. Lancelot Poverty-Struck
an acrostic by him praising a Dr Wolf Joseph Yonker, dated 1774 but sent to the Gentleman's Magazine by an anonymous contributor in 1785
Summing Up: 

Lewis's birth and death dates are unkown, but he (fl. 1750–1774). Although he's belated according to our standards, he's a particularly interesting case. Writing under the pseudonym "Lancelot Poverty-Struck," Lewis's poems frequently reflect the vicissitudes of a working man's life. He wrote in 1773 that ‘Poverty has stuck so close to me all my Life time: that Providence never trusted me with more Than Six Guineas at one period of Time.’ He published two books of verse. His second collection is said to have originated when, ‘not having sufficient employment at his business to supply his family with bread’, he thought of earning money by writing begging letters in verse. His poverty and begging for money is the subject matter of most of his work. In 1768 Lewis tried a new method of soliciting help: he inserted a series of advertisements in the Public Advertiser (April–May) under the heading ‘Real Calamity’, describing in doggerel verse the hardships of ‘the poor Poet’ (now lame) and his ‘distressed Family’, and inviting donations. He amassed over £10 in a few weeks by this device, but continued to have severe financial difficulties. His family (13 children!) had to take refuge in the workhouse and he was unable to work because of swelling in his legs and lack of money to buy tools. 

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