22nd May 1826

Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born

Denys Corbet was many things: poet, painter, editor, clock smith, public servant. It’s perhaps for his paintings of cows that he’s best remembered, though.

Born in La Turquie, Vale, on 22 May 1826, he was a master of Guernesiais. Like Guernsey’s better-known poet, Métivier, he wrote much of his work in the language. He also used two pseudonyms: The Last Poet, when writing verse, and Chatterbox when writing prose in Le Baillage.

Meaning “The Bailiwick”, Le Baillage was the French-langauge newspaper he edited. The name Last Poet nods at the fact that he was the last of Guernsey’s poets to write using the island’s own language. He dedicated his first book of poems to Métivier.

A man of many talents

Having become a renowned writer in his own right, he spent some time as a teacher. After that, he spent two years as a parish constable, repaired clocks and valued land. He married Susan Elizabeth Wellington in 1852 and the couple had six children.

Among his best-known poems is The Tour of Guernsey, which describes the island’s ten parishes in significant detail. He is also known for another written work, The Leaves of The Forest, but is better remembered for his paintings. These largely concern themselves with aspects of rural life and, in particular, Guernsey cows.

Death and legacy

Corbet died in Forest, Guernsey, on 21 April 1909, and was buried in Forest churchyard. In 2009, to mark the centenary of his death, an attempt was made to erect a blue plaque in his honour at La Roberge farm. This was where he had lived out what remained of his life from 1877.

This attempt was unsuccessful, but a second attempt in 2011 did succeed and the plaque was unveiled at 3pm on 16 July that year.

It reads, “Denys Corbet, 1826 – 1909, Poet and Painter soulait d’meurair ichin”.


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Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st