Life and work
He was the son of the clergyman Thomas Shenstone (1686-1723) and his wife Ann Penn ( † 1739 ). He had a younger brother Thomas ( 1722-1751 ). After the death of his father, his uncle Thomas Dolman took over the guardianship of him. Even as a child he was interested in literature. His first teacher, Sarah Lloyd, he continued later in the poem The Schoolmistress ( 1736) a monument.
After completion of the Grammar School, he studied from May 1732 at Pembroke College, Oxford. After two years he abandoned his studies and moved to the countryside, but remained until 1742 officially enrolled. At the age of 19 he wrote his first poem in 1737 he published in a small edition, a collection of poems Poems on various occasions. In 1743 he wrote A Pastoral Ballad, one of his most famous poems.
After the death of his guardian in 1745 he took over the 150 -acre family estate The Leasowes and devoted himself next to the writing of landscape gardening. He is considered by his writing Unconnected thoughts on gardening (1759, published 1764) as one of the founders of the concept of Ferme Ornée, should bring the aesthetic design and agricultural use in accordance. This influenced, among others, the American President Thomas Jefferson in the system of his country Monticello. Shenstone had numerous correspondences and received guests, to whom he showed his gardens with pride. However, he had only a modest income and life was plagued by financial worries.
He died unmarried and without issue, his gardens fell into disrepair after his death. His literary work was published in 1764-1769 by his friend Robert Dodsley in three volumes under the title The works in verse and prose of William Shenstone.
His poems have been estimated by, among others, by Oliver Goldsmith and Robert Burns. Burns described him in 1786 as did Celebrated poet Whose divine elegies do honor to our language, our nation and our species. In contrast, Horace Walpole expressed highly critical of him. A large share of that Shenstone is almost forgotten today as a poet, had especially Samuel Johnson. He wrote unflattering about him: The general recommendation of Shenstone is easiness and simplicity; his general defect is want of comprehension and variety. Had his mind been better stored with knowledge, Whether he could have been great, I know not; Hey Could Certainly havebeen agreeable.
In the history of the English language Shenstone went through his neologism Floccinaucinihilipilification, which he used in a letter in 1741.