Author Info: William Empson
Hometown: Yokefleet Hall, Yorkshire
About: Sir William Empson was an English literary critic and poet.
He was widely influential for his practice of closely reading literary works, fundamental to the New Critics. Jonathan Bate has said that the three greatest English Literary critics of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries are Johnson, Hazlitt and Empson, "not least because they are the funniest".
Empson has been styled a "critic of genius" by Sir Frank Kermode, who qualified his praise by identifying willfully perverse readings of certain authors; and Harold Bloom has stated that Empson is among a handful of critics who matter most to him, because of their force and eccentricity. Empson's bluntness led to controversy both during his life and after his death, and a reputation in part also as a "licensed buffoon" (Empson's own phrase).