Henley was a British poet, editor and journalist born in Gloucester, England on August 23, 1849.
When he was 12 years old Henley contracted tuberculosis of the bone and at the age of 16 had his left leg amputated below the knee.
Unfortunately his right foot was also diseased and after receiving radical surgery, he spent several years in the hospital until he was better.
It was during his stay in the hospital that Henley began to write his impressionistic poems of bravado and spirited defiance. His inspiring poem Invictus (Unconquered in Latin) demonstrates and confirms how, despite his challenging obstacles, he chose to lead an active, productive life.
Alongside his poetic accomplishments, Henley edited several journals and introduced to the public the early works of Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling. He also collaborated on four plays with his lifelong friend Robert Louis Stevenson.
Out of the night that
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.