Arthur Henry King:Mormon Poet
Arthur Henry King was a British poet, writer, and academic. He was recognized worldwide as a Shakespearean and linguistics specialist.
He was born on February 20, 1910, in England to Quaker parents. He graduated from the University of Cambridge in 1931 and went on to earn his Doctor of Literature degree from the University of Lund, in Sweden, in stylistics. He taught English and English literature for fourteen years at the universities in Lund and Stockholm. He served as Assistant Director-General in charge of Education in England. Beginning in 1943, he served twenty-eight years as an official in the British Council, which supervises overseas educational and cultural affairs for the British government. He served in Europe, Persia, and Pakistan. Queen Elizabeth II twice decorated him for this work.
King had an international reputation as a poet, author, and lecturer. He produced works on sixteenth and seventeenth century literature and English as a foreign language. King asserted that poet Andrew Marvell was a principal influence on his work, and also acknowledged the influence of T. S. Elliot and Yeats.
He was a founding member of the Swedish Vetenskaps Society and a longtime member of Britain’s prestigious Athenaeum club.
After his first wife (Maud) died, King married his second cousin, Patricia, who was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He joined the Church and, in 1971, he joined the faculty of Brigham Young University, where he taught English and served as an associate director of the University’s Honors Program. Following his retirement from BYU, he presided over the London England Temple of the Church.
For decades, the London England and Bern Switzerland Temples were the only temples on the European continent. They served a large geographical area that includes districts on the African continent. Many members made tremendous sacrifices to attend these temples, knowing that a temple trip could be a once-in-a-lifetime event. Chad Hawkins recalls one such couple's sacrifice and King's help.
- In the late 1980s, a couple from Ghana in western Africa saved their money and traveled to the London Temple on an uncomfortable freight vessel. They arrived in England on a Friday night and awoke the next morning eager to visit the temple. With the help of a deckhand from the freighter, they found the temple Saturday afternoon. Their anticipation turned to sorrow when they learned that the temple was closed on Saturday afternoons; the last session of the day had begun a half hour before their arrival. The temple would reopen the following Tuesday—the same time their freighter would be returning to Ghana. After traveling a vast distance at a great cost, the couple was overwhelmed with anguish and feared their dreams of achieving temple blessings would not be realized. They broke into tears.
- Arthur Henry King, who served as president of the London England Temple from 1986 to 1990, soon learned of the couple’s plight. President King arranged for a few temple workers and local members to participate in a special, additional session that day. His actions allowed this humble African couple to receive their endowments and the sealing ordinance that afternoon. They left the temple late in the day filled with peace and joy found in temple blessings.
King and his first wife were childless; their only son lived only one week. He was stepfather to his second wife’s three children. He died on January 15, 2000.