Richard Bentley

(1662 - 1742)
Richard Bentley (1662-1742)

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Richard Bentley (1662-1742)

Works in ECPA

Source editions

  • A Collection of Poems in Six Volumes. By Several Hands. Vol. VI. London: printed by J. Hughs, for R. and J. Dodsley, 1763 [1st ed. 1758]. 6v.: music; 8⁰. (ESTC T131163; OTA K104099.006)

Biographical note

Richard Bentley was born at Oulton, Yorkshire, in 1662. He was educated at Wakefield Grammar School and St. John's College, Cambridge, where he took the degrees of B.A. in 1680, M.A. in 1683, and D.D. in 1696. He took holy orders in 1690. He was tutor to the son of Edward Stillingfleet (1635-99), Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, and served as Stillingfleet's chaplain when he was created Bishop of Worcester. In 1694 he became Keeper of the King's Libraries and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in the following year. Bentley's classical scholarship was frequently the subject of controversy, mainly for its pedantry, which in literary terms culminated in Swift making him a mock hero in his The Battle of the Books (1704). Bentley was made Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1699 and in 1700 was appointed Vice Chancellor of the university. In 1717 he was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity. Bentley proved equally contentious in his administrative roles and was ultimately expelled from the mastership in 1734. Bentley's extraordinary knowledge of Greek and biblical studies led him into further controversy through the publication of emendated editions of Horace (1711) and Milton (1732). They made him an easy target for Pope, who satirized Bentley mercilessly in The Dunciad (1743). Bentley's many contributions to classical scholarship were only rediscovered and his reputation as the pre-eminent classical scholar of his time restored by a later generation of scholars.

Bibliography

DMI 3181; ODNB 2169; NCBEL 41, 1769, 1819, 1856

Biography

  • White, R. J. Dr. Bentley: A Study in Academic Scarlet. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1965. Print.

Reference

Criticism

  • Haugen, Kristine Louise. Richard Bentley: Poetry and Enlightenment. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP, 2011. Print. (Review: Burke, Jr., John J. (Reflections on the Origins of Postmodern Deconstruction in Eighteenth-century Classical Studies): Richard Bentley: Poetry and Enlightenment by Kristine Louise Haugen. The Age of Johnson: A Scholarly Annual 22 (2012): 337-344. Print.)