29th January 1790

Guernsey poet George Métivier is born

Considered by many to be Guernsey’s “national” poet, George Métivier was born in Rue de la Fontaine, St Peter Port, on 29 January 1790. He died, aged 91, on 23 March 1881, and left behind a considerable body of work.

Métivier primarily wrote in Guernesiais, and as well as producing poems in the language for both newspaper and book publication, he wrote the first Guernesiais dictionary – his Dictionnaire Franco-Normand of 1870 – and translated the Gospel of St Matthew into the local language.

He hadn’t always been destined to be a poet. Métivier studied medicine in Edinburgh, but gave up on the course and returned to Guernsey to write.  He arrived back in 1830 and within a year had already produced his first volume of poetry, Rimes Guernesiais.

Metivier’s dictionary

Although Rimes Guernesiais contained a small selection of equivalent words in both English and Guernsey French, aiding those who didn’t speak patois in reading the work, it would be another 40 years before he fleshed them out into a fully-fledged bilingual dictionary.

Despite being born in Town, Métivier used the pen name Un Câtelain in honour of his connection with Castel, the western parish where his grandfather had settled upon first arriving on the island.

Regardless of the considerable age difference between them, Métivier became a friend of the poet and painter Denys Corbet, who also wrote in Gernesiais.


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Other events that occured in January

Alderney elects its first president 1st
Guille and Alles open their library 2nd
Guernsey bans smoking in public places 3rd
Guernsey Press registers its domain 4th
Guernsey Zoo is sold as a going concern 5th
Guernsey opens its wartime files
Guernsey Police moves to its new headquarters 6th
Guernsey Fisher makes its maiden voyage 7th
Work begins on the Val des Terres 8th
A hotel porter goes on trial for murder 9th
Guernsey Police Service appoints its first inspector 10th
Royal theft inquiry heads to Guernsey 11th
Channel Express Airways plane crashes in Guernsey 12th
Sibyl Hathaway, Dame of Sark, is born 13th
Channel Television disappears 14th
Benefactor Osmond de Beauvoir Priaulx dies 15th
MV Prosperity is wrecked at Perelle 16th
Guernsey’s Royal Court sits for the first time 17th
Doctor Who travels to Guernsey 18th
Channel 4 gameshow Treasure Hunt comes to Guernsey 19th
Hanois Lighthouse is cut off by the weather 20th
Guernsey-built prototype plane crashes 21st
Guernsey Steam Tramway stops running 22nd
Radiant Med sinks with loss of life 23rd
Guernsey wins gold at the Commonwealth Games 24th
Sark is awarded Dark-Sky status 25th
Guernsey passengers are battered by storms 26th
Sir Isaac Newton has his say on a mysterious Guernsey invention 27th
Guernsey’s last witch trial takes place 28th
Guernsey poet George Métivier is born 29th
The States of Guernsey proposes a new airport 30th
Guernsey lifeboat performs a chemical tanker rescue 31st