Right Royal

by John Masefield

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Right Royal is an irresistible racing ballad, written by former Poet Laureate John Masefield, about a dream which turned into a feat of madness: a folly familiar to many in the world of gambling! 

The poem was first published in 1920 and two years later a new edition was brought out, illustrated by Cecil Aldin. It has not been back in print as a single volume in the UK until now.

The action of the poem centres on Charles Cothill, the main character of the story, who enters his steeplechaser Right Royal for the English Chasers’ Cup, a race with obvious parallels to the Grand National. It is run over four and a half miles and features formidable fences.

Right Royal has earned a reputation for being ungenerous and temperamental, with remote prospects. But on the night before the race, Cothill dreams that the horse will win and the haunting line echoes throughout the poem: ‘It’s my day today – I shall not have another…’

The whole of the poem draws the reader in to the rash stake the young love-lorn jockey puts on his horse, and captures all the thrill of the races as the enthralling events of the day unfold.

A tale of exhilaration and heartbreak, folly and love, this is a spell-binding piece of flowing writing by one of Britain’s finest poets.

Cecil Aldin’s masterful illustrations beautifully capture all the heightened emotions of horse racing.


Black & white illustrations


Sep 05, 2013


About the Author:

John Masefield was born in Ledbury in 1878, orphaned at the age of six, and after a period at sea training for a naval career, he worked on the Manchester Guardian. In 1902 his Salt-Water Ballads was published, incorporating his celebrated poem, ‘Sea Fever’. A year later he married and he and Constance had a daughter, followed by a son who later died in action in 1942. 1903 saw publication of a further volume of Masefield poems including ‘Cargoes’. During WWI, Masefield served overseas with the Red Cross, afterwards settling to enjoy rural life in Oxfordshire.

In 1920, he wrote Right Royal as well as some other narrative poems.

Masefield was Poet Laureate from 1930 until his death in 1967.

Cecil Aldin’s masterful illustrations beautifully capture all the heightened emotions of horse racing in Right Royal.

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