John Edward Masefield (June 1, 1878 – May 12, 1967) was an English poet and writer, and Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom from 1930 until his death in 1967. He is remembered as the author of the classic children's novels The Midnight Folk and The Box of Delights, and poems, including "The Everlasting Mercy" and "Sea-Fever."
Masefield was born in Ledbury in Herefordshire. After an unhappy education at the King's School in Warwick (now known as Warwick School), where he was a border between 1888 and 1891, he left to board the HMS Conway. He spent several years aboard this ship and it was aboard the Conway that Masefield's love for story-telling grew. While on the ship, he listened to the stories told about sea lore. He continued to read, and felt that he was to become a writer and story teller himself.
By the time he was 24, Masefield's poems were being published in periodicals and his first collected works, Salt-Water Ballads (1902) was published, the poem "Sea-Fever" appearing in this book. Masefield then wrote the novels, Captain Margaret (1908) and Multitude and Solitude (1909). In 1911, after a long drought of poem writing, he composed "The Everlasting Mercy," the first of his narrative poems, and within the next year, Masefield had produced two more, "The Widow in the Bye Street" and "Dauber." As a result, Masefield became widely known to the public and was praised by critics.
Masefield entered the 1920s as an accomplished and respected writer. He continued to meet with success, the 1923 edition of "Collected Poems" selling approximately 80,000 copies. He produced three poems early in this decade “Reynard the Fox,” “Right Royal,” and “King Cole.” After “King Cole,” Masefield turned away from the long poem and back to the novel, and from 1924 till the World War II published twelve novels, which vary from stories of the sea (The Bird of Dawning, Victorious Troy) to social novels about modern England (The Hawbucks, The Square Peg), and from tales of an imaginary land in Central America (Sard Harker, Odtaa) to fantasies for children (The Midnight Folk, The Box of Delights). In this same period he wrote a large number of dramatic pieces.