While at university Empson began work on his dissertation that was later published as his first, and perhaps most influential, critical work, Seven Types of Ambiguity Main Menu Home. Notable Empsons. Advanced Search. Contact Us. Advanced Name Search.
Empson’s “Sacred Mountain”: Poetry, Criticism, and Love | boundary 2
Sir William Empson 27 September - 15 April was an English literary critic and poet , widely influential for his practice of closely reading literary works, a practice fundamental to New Criticism. His best-known work is his first, Seven Types of Ambiguity , published in Jonathan Bate has written  that the three greatest English literary critics of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries are Johnson , Hazlitt and Empson, "not least because they are the funniest". He was a first cousin of the twins David and Richard Atcherley. Empson first discovered his great skill and interest in mathematics at his preparatory school. He won an entrance scholarship to Winchester College , where he excelled as a student and received what he later described as "a ripping education" in spite of the rather rough and abusive milieu of the school: a longstanding tradition of physical force, especially among the students, figured prominently in life at such schools. He then went on to pursue a second degree in English, and at the end of the first year he was offered a Bye Fellowship.
Empson’s “Sacred Mountain”: Poetry, Criticism, and Love
A thesis, he was required to do as part of his studies later became published as his first, and perhaps most influential, critical work, Seven Types of Ambiguity With the publications of Some Versions of Pastoral , The Structure of Complex Words and Milton's God , he rapidly became seen as one of the most influential critics of the twentieth century. As well as his success in the critical field, Empson also wrote poetry and exercised great technical influence over the group of poets known as 'the Movement.
William Empson Courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Sir William Empson 27 September - 15 April was an English poet and literary critic , widely influential for his practice of closely reading literary works, fundamental to New Criticism. His best-known work is his earliest, Seven Types of Ambiguity , published in