Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

James Barron Hope

aka Henry Ellen


James Barron Hope, A Wreath of Virginia Bay Leaves. Poems
(Richmond, Virginia: West, Johnston & Co., 1895)

"James Barron Hope, grandson of Commodore James Barrow, was born at his grandfather's house at the Gosport Navy-yard in Norfolk, Virginia, March 23, 1829, and died in that city September 15, 1887. He got his schooling at Germantown, Pennsylvania, and at Hampton, Virginia, and then studied at William and Mary College, where he graduated in 1847. Two years later he fought a duel which came near being fatal to both parties, and ever after his disposition was rather to appease dissensions than to inflame them. He served as secretary to his uncle Commodore Samuel Barron of the navy, and in 1852 made a cruise in the West Indies, to which we may probably ascribe part of the interest in Cuba, to be found in a poem on that island written before the Civil War, yet couched in a tone that would have seemed strikingly appropriate in 1898. He then studied law, and was in 1856 elected commonwealth's attorney of Hampton. He already had some reputation as a poet in consequence of his contributions to The Southern Literary Messenger and other periodicals over the signature of 'Henry Ellen.' In 1857 he published, in Philadelphia, his first volume, 'Leoni di Monota, and Other Poems,' In this appeared his spirited 'Charge at Balaklava,' which was widely admired. The same year, acting as the poet at the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement at Jamestown, he began to deliver those memorial poems which gained him the sobriquet of 'Virginia's laureate.' On February 22, 1858, he recited, at Richmond, the poem at the unveiling of Crawford's equestrian statue of Washington, and the same year he published, in a small volume, these official poems and a few others, including the stanzas on Cuba mentioned above. During the Civil War he served as quartermaster and captain, and he came out of the struggle 'broken in fortune and in health; but he bore his pain with wonderful fortitude; not only bore, but hid it away from those nearest to him.' After the war he settled in Norfolk, and gave himself to journalism. He founded the Norfolk Landmark in 1873, and made it one of the best papers of the state. He was a prominent figure in Virginia, noted not only for his gifts as poet, speaker, and editor, but for his attractive social qualities. His chief appearance after the war as an official poet was at the celebration of the Yorktown Centennial in 1881. He subsequently repeated in several large cities the poem read on this occasion. He was selected to deliver the poem at the laying of the corner-stone of the monument to General Lee in Richmond, but before the event took place he was dead, and his poem was read by a friend. Besides his volumes of verse Captain Hope published a novel, some stories for children, and several addresses. A volume of selections from his poetry, entitled, 'A Wreath of Virginia Bay Leaves,' was edited by his daughter, Mrs. Janey Hope Marr, in 1895."

[Source: W.P. Trent, Southern Writers: Selections in Prose and Verse 295-296 (New York: MacMillan Company, 1905)]

James Baron Hope
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography
(New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889)(James Grant Wilson & John Fiske eds.)(6 vols.)

James Baron Hope
The Magazine of Poetry

Soldier Poets
Cambridge History of English and American Literature

A Poem Dedicated to James Barron Hope

"To JAMES BARRON HOPE, ESQ. DEAR FRIEND: Please excuse the liberty I take in dedicating to you the following hastily written poem, which I dare not dignify with the title of epic. The remembrance of past hours, of pleasant associations, the many kindly favors which I acknowledge at your hands; and more particularly my admiration for your shining merits as a scholar, a patriot and a gentleman, have induced me to inscribe these pages to you. You will find, on perusal, much to condemn as bordering on the doggerel—but you must be aware that when a poet is bound down to facts, he is compelled to throw the ideal aside; at least, I have found it so in attempting to chronicle the events of the war in rhyme."

John Hill Hewitt, War: A Poem, with Copious Notes, Founded on the Revolution of 1861-62, (up to the Battles before Richmond, Inclusive)(Richmond, Virginia: West & Johnston, 1862)


Lines Sketched From Life

To Amolita

A Sketch

'Twas Wrong

The Resignation of Hope

A Short Sermon

To Zenova

To Mary

Three Summer Studies

The Penman's Rhyme

A Memorial Poem

Leoni di Monota
(Richmond, Virginia, 1855)
[pt. 1] [pt. 2] [pt. 3]

Washington-Pater Patriae

Our Anglo-Saxon Tongue


James Barron Hope, A Collection of Poems (Richmond: A. Morris 1850) [online text]

_______________, Leoni di Monota, and Other Poems (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1857) [commentary]

_______________, A Poem (Richmond: C.H. Wynne, printer, 1857) [online text]

_______________, A Poem pronounced on the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the English settlement at Jamestown, May 13th, 1857 (Richmond: C.H. Wynne, 1857)

_______________, A Collection of Poems (Richmond: A Morris, 1859)

_______________, An Elegiac Ode (Richmond: Examiner Job Print, 1866)(subtitled: "recited on the occasion of completing the monument erected by the ladies of Warren County, N.C., over the remains of Annie Carter Lee")

_______________, Arms and the Man (Norfolk, Virginia: Landmark Publishing Company, 1882)("a metrical address, recited on the one hundredth anniversary (October 19th, 1881) of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, on invitation of Joint committee of both houses of congress")

_______________, A Wreath of Virginia Bay Leaves: Poems of James Barron Hope (Richmond, Virginia: West, Johnston & Co., 1895)(edited by Janey Hope Marr, the author's daughter) [online text]


James Barron Hope, Chronicles of Yonkers (Yonkers, New York: C.A. Alvord, 1864) [online text]

_______________, Under the Empire, or the Story of Madelon (Norfolk, Virginia: J.B. Hope & Co., 1878)

Bibliography: Articles

L. Moody Simms Jr., James Barron Hope: Virginia's Laureate, 19 (3) Virginia Cavalcade 22 (1970)

Paul C. Wermuth, An Ode to Reconciliation: James Barton Hope Delivered at Yorktown in 1881 a Poetic Tribute to the Reunited States, 7 (2) Virginia Cavalcade 14 (Autumn 1957)

Mildred Lewis Rutherford, The South in History and Literature, A Hand-Book of Southern Authors From the Settlement of Jamestown, 1607, to Living Writings 436-439 (Atlanta: Franklin-Turner Company, 1907)(1906)

Research Resources

James Barron Hope Papers
Swem Library, College of William and Mary
Williamsburg. Virginia

Virginia Literature

The Story of an Old Town Hampton, Virginia