It’s the birthday of the poet who wrote the lines, “I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, / And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,” in his poem “Sea Fever”: John Masefield (books by this author), born in Ledbury, England (1878). An orphan, Masefield was sent to live with an aunt, who soon sent him off on a naval training school ship, convinced it would break his bad habit of reading all the time. In fact, Masefield had lots of spare time aboard the ship, and read more than ever. Within four years, determined to be a writer, he deserted ship in New York City. He got work in a carpet factory and saved enough money to return to England, where he married and began publishing.
Masefield was chosen as the U.K.’s poet laureate in 1930 — a post he kept for 37 years, second in duration only to Tennyson.