Katherine Philips, nee Katherine Fowler, pseudonym Orinda, (baptized January 11, 1632, London, England--died June 22, 1664, London), English poet who, as Orinda, the central figure in a literary group in Cardigan, Wales, wrote lyrics on friendship that represent a transition from courtly poetry to the Augustan style typical of Restoration literature.
Robert Bloomfield, (born Dec. 3, 1766, Honington, Suffolk, Eng.--died Aug. 19, 1823, Shefford, Bedfordshire), shoemaker-poet who achieved brief fame with poems describing the English countryside.Born in rural Suffolk but thought too frail to work on the land, Bloomfield was sent to London at age 15 to be apprenticed to a shoemaker. His poem The Farmer's Boy (1800), written in couplets, owed its popularity to its blend of late 18th-century pastoralism with an early Romantic feeling for nature. The works that followed, from Rural Tales, Ballads, and Songs (1802) to The Banks of Wye (1811),..
Edward Benlowes, (born July 12, 1602, Finchingfield, Essex, Eng.--died Dec. 18, 1676, Oxford, Oxfordshire), English poet of the metaphysical school and a patron of the arts.Though his family was Roman Catholic, Benlowes early become a vehement Protestant. He used the wealth from his large inherited estates to support his various artistic endeavours; he commissioned engravings to illustrate his own and his friends' poems, and he owned his own printing press. During the 1640s he composed Theophila, or Loves Sacrifice (printed 1652), a long poem describing, in some fine rhapsodic passages..
Alexander Barclay, (born c. 1476--died June 10, 1552, Croydon, Surrey, Eng.), poet who won contemporary fame chiefly for his adaptation of a popular German satire, Das Narrenschiff, by Sebastian Brant, which he called The Shyp of Folys of the Worlde (first printed 1509).Barclay, possibly of Scottish birth, was by 1509 a chaplain at the College of St. Mary Ottery, Devon. He later became a Benedictine monk at Ely and still later a Franciscan friar of Canterbury. He presumably conformed to Protestantism, however, for after the Reformation he retained livings (benefices) in Essex and Somerset..
Christopher Smart, (born April 11, 1722, Shipbourne, Kent, Eng.--died May 21, 1771, London), English religious poet, best known for A Song to David (1763), in praise of the author of the Psalms, notable for flashes of childlike penetration and vivid imagination. In some respects his work anticipated that of William Blake and John Clare.After his education at the University of Cambridge, Smart was elected a fellow of Pembroke Hall (1745), but at about the age of 27 he became a hack writer in London. He was three times confined for madness (a mild religious mania), but his strange yet engaging personality..
Felicia Dorothea Hemans, nee Felicia Dorothea Browne, (born Sept. 25, 1793, Liverpool--died May 16, 1835, Dublin), English poet who owed the immense popularity of her poems to a talent for treating Romantic themes--nature, the picturesque, childhood innocence, travels abroad, liberty, the heroic--with an easy and engaging fluency. Poems (1808), written when she was between 8 and 13, was the first of a series of 24 volumes of verse; from 1816 to 1834 one or more appeared almost every year.At 19 she married Capt. Alfred Hemans, but they separated seven years later; her prolific output helped..
John Byrom, (born Feb. 29, 1692, Kersal Cell, near Manchester, Eng.--died Sept. 26, 1763, London), English poet, hymnist, and inventor of a system of shorthand.Byrom was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was elected fellow in 1714. He then went abroad, ostensibly to study medicine; in view of his Jacobite leanings his journey may have been political. On his return to London in 1718, he taught his own method of shorthand and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1724.Byrom's first poem, "Colin and Phoebe," appeared in The Spectator (October 1714), and his collected Miscellaneous..
William Barnes, (born Feb. 22, 1801, Bagber, near Sturminster Newton, Dorsetshire, Eng.--died Oct. 7, 1886, Winterbourne Came, Dorsetshire), English dialect poet whose work gives a vivid picture of the life and labour of rural southwestern England and includes some moving expressions of loss and grief, such as "The Wife A-Lost" and "Woak Hill." He was also a gifted philologist, and his linguistic theories as well as his poetry influenced two major writers, Thomas Hardy and Gerard Manley Hopkins.After leaving school at 15, Barnes worked for a solicitor, studied classics with local clergymen,..
Richard Monckton Milnes, in full Richard Monckton Milnes, 1st Baron Houghton of Great Houghton, (born June 19, 1809, London, England--died August 11, 1885, Vichy, France), English politician, poet, and man of letters.While at Trinity College, Cambridge (1827-30), Milnes joined the socially and artistically progressive Apostles Club, which included among its members the poets Alfred Tennyson and Arthur Henry Hallam. From 1837 to 1863 he served as a member of Parliament (initially as a Tory, then as a Liberal from 1846), becoming involved in such questions as copyright and the establishment..
Thomas Hoccleve, Hoccleve also spelled Occleve, (born 1368/69, London--died c. 1450?, Southwick, Eng.), English poet, contemporary and imitator of Chaucer, whose work has little literary merit but much value as social history.What little is known of Hoccleve's life must be gathered mainly from his works. At age 18 or 19 he obtained a clerkship in the privy seal office in London, which he retained intermittently for about 35 years. His earliest dated poem, a translation of Christine de Pisan's L'Epistre au dieu d'amours, appeared in 1402 as "The Letter of Cupid." His poem La Male Regle (1406;..
Thomas Lovell Beddoes, (born June 30, 1803, Clifton, Somerset, Eng.--died Jan. 26, 1849, Basel, Switz.), poet best known for his haunting dramatic poem Death's Jest-Book; or, The Fool's Tragedy.The son of a distinguished scientist, Beddoes seems early to have acquired, from his father's dissections and speculations on anatomy and the soul, an obsession with death that was to dominate his life and work. He was educated at Charterhouse, where his passion for the drama became evident and where he nourished his imagination on 18th-century Gothic romances. In 1820 he went to Oxford University,..
Michael Drayton, (born 1563, Hartshill, Warwickshire, Eng.--died 1631, London), English poet, the first to write odes in English in the manner of Horace.Drayton spent his early years in the service of Sir Henry Goodere, to whom he owed his education, and whose daughter, Anne, he celebrated as Idea in his poems. His first published work, The Harmonie of the Church (1591), contains biblical paraphrases in an antiquated style. His next works conformed more nearly to contemporary fashion: in pastoral, with Idea, The Shepheards Garland (1593); in sonnet, with Ideas Mirrour (1594); in erotic idyll,..
George Gascoigne, (born c. 1539, Cardington, Bedfordshire, Eng.--died Oct. 7, 1577, Barnack, near Stamford, Lincolnshire), English poet and a major literary innovator.Gascoigne attended the University of Cambridge, studied law at Gray's Inn in 1555, and thereafter pursued careers as a politician, country gentleman, courtier, soldier of fortune, and man of letters, all with moderate distinction. He was a member of Parliament (1557-59). Because of his extravagance and debts, he gained a reputation for disorderly living. He served with English troops in the Low Countries, ending his..
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, nee Elizabeth Barrett, (born March 6, 1806, near Durham, Durham county, England--died June 29, 1861, Florence, Italy), English poet whose reputation rests chiefly upon her love poems, Sonnets from the Portuguese and Aurora Leigh, the latter now considered an early feminist text. Her husband was Robert Browning.Elizabeth was the eldest child of Edward Barrett Moulton (later Edward Moulton Barrett). Most of her girlhood was spent at a country house within sight of the Malvern Hills, in Worcestershire, where she was extraordinarily happy. At the age of 15, however,..
John Skelton, (born c. 1460--died June 21, 1529, London), Tudor poet and satirist of both political and religious subjects whose reputation as an English poet of major importance was restored only in the 20th century and whose individual poetic style of short rhyming lines, based on natural speech rhythms, has been given the name of Skeltonics.His place of birth and childhood is unknown. He was educated at the University of Cambridge and later achieved the status of "poet laureate" (a degree in rhetoric) at Oxford, Leuven (Louvain) in the Netherlands (now in Belgium), and Cambridge. This success..
Algernon Charles Swinburne, (born April 5, 1837, London--died April 10, 1909, Putney, London), English poet and critic, outstanding for prosodic innovations and noteworthy as the symbol of mid-Victorian poetic revolt. The characteristic qualities of his verse are insistent alliteration, unflagging rhythmic energy, sheer melodiousness, great variation of pace and stress, effortless expansion of a given theme, and evocative if rather imprecise use of imagery. His poetic style is highly individual and his command of word-colour and word-music striking. Swinburne's technical gifts..
John Langhorne, (born March 1735, Winton, Somerset, Eng.--died April 1, 1779, Blagdon, Somerset), poet and English translator of the 1st-century Greek biographer Plutarch; his work anticipates that of George Crabbe in its description of the problems facing the poor. He was a country rector after 1766. His best work is perhaps The Country Justice (3 parts, 1774-77). His translation--jointly with his brother William--of Plutarch appeared in 1770. He also contributed reviews to The Monthly Review (1761-79) and edited the poems of William Collins (1765)...
George Turberville, Turberville also spelled Turbervile, (born 1540?, Winterbourne Whitchurch, Dorset, Eng.--died before 1597), first English poet to publish a book of verses to his lady, a genre that became popular in the Elizabethan age.After attending the University of Oxford, Turberville went to Russia (1568-69) as secretary to Thomas Randolph, the first English ambassador there, and later settled at Shapwick, Dorset. In Epitaphes, Epigrams, Songs and Sonets . . . (1567), Turberville followed models in Tottel's Miscellany and the Greek Anthology, addressing poems to his lady,..
Vernon Phillips Watkins, (born June 27, 1906, Maesteg, Glamorgan,Wales--died Oct. 8, 1967, near Swansea, Glamorgan), English-language Welsh poet who drew from Welsh material and legend.Watkins steeped himself in the study of French and German and developed a deep understanding of the poetry of both those countries while he was a student at Cambridge University. After graduation he became a bank clerk and wrote poetry. Watkins' work includes Ballad of Mari Lwyd (1941), The Lamp and the Veil (1945), The Lady with the Unicorn (1948), The Death Bell (1954), Cypress and Acacia (1959), and Affinities..
William Browne, (born 1591?, Tavistock, Devonshire, Eng.--died 1645?), English poet, author of Britannia's Pastorals (1613-16) and other pastoral and miscellaneous verse.Browne studied at the University of Oxford and entered the Inner Temple in 1611. Between 1616 and 1621 he lived in France. In 1623 he became tutor to Robert Dormer, the future Earl of Carnarvon, accompanying him to Eton and Oxford. His later life appears to have been spent near Dorking, Surrey.Britannia's Pastorals, modeled on the work of the poet Edmund Spenser, is a long, discursive pastoral narrative interspersed..
Henry King, (baptized Jan. 16, 1592, Worminghall, Buckinghamshire, Eng.--died Sept. 30, 1669, Chichester, Sussex), English poet and Anglican bishop whose elegy for his wife is considered one of the best in the English language.Educated at Oxford, King received numerous and remunerative preferments. A friend and an executor of the estate of John Donne, his poetry was as much influenced by Ben Jonson as by Donne. King became bishop of Chichester in 1642, but his estate was sequestered during the interregnum and he spent the time until the Restoration (1660) in restless retirement with friends..
Sir Henry Wotton, (born March 30, 1568, Boughton Malherbe, Kent, Eng.--died December 1639, Eton, Buckinghamshire), English poet, diplomat, and art connoisseur who was a friend of the poets John Donne and John Milton.Of his few surviving poems, "You Meaner Beauties of the Night," written to Elizabeth of Bohemia, is the most famous. Izaak Walton's biography of Wotton was prefixed to the Reliquiae Wottonianae (1651), the volume in which most of Wotton's writings first appeared.Wotton was knighted in 1604, served as ambassador to Venice intermittently from 1604 to 1623, and was a member of Parliament..
George Barker, in full George Granville Barker, (born Feb. 26, 1913, Loughton, Essex, Eng.--died Oct. 27, 1991, Itteringham, Norfolk), English poet mostly concerned with the elemental forces of life. His first verses were published in the 1930s, and he became popular in the '40s, about the same time as the poet Dylan Thomas, who voiced similar themes but whose reputation overshadowed Barker's.Barker left school at 14 and worked at a variety of jobs before his first publications, the novel Alanna Autumnal and Thirty Preliminary Poems, appeared in 1933. He taught English literature in Japan,..
Giles Fletcher the Younger, (born c. 1585, London--died 1623, Alderton, Suffolk, Eng.), English poet principally known for his great Baroque devotional poem Christs Victorie.He was the younger son of Giles Fletcher the Elder. He was educated at Westminster School and at Trinity College, Cambridge. After his ordination, he held a college position, and became known for his sermons at the Church of St. Mary the Great. He left Cambridge about 1618 and soon after received the rectory of Alderton, Suffolk.The theme of Fletcher's masterpiece, Christs Victorie, and Triumph in Heaven, and Earth,..
Arthur Brooke, Brooke also spelled Broke, (died 1563), English poet and author of The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet (1562), the poem on which Shakespeare based Romeo and Juliet. It is written in rhymed verse and was taken from the French translation of one of the stories in Matteo Bandello's Novelle (1554-73; French trans., 1564-82). Brooke altered the original; for example, he developed the character of the nurse, changed various aspects of the last scene, and introduced Fortune as the controlling agent of the lovers' lives. That Shakespeare also incorporated these changes indicates..
Henry Luttrell, (born c. 1765--died Dec. 19, 1851, London, Eng.), English poet of light verse and London society wit.Luttrell was an illegitimate son of Henry Lawes Luttrell, 2nd earl of Carhampton, who in 1798 used his influence in securing his son a seat in the Irish Parliament and a post in the Irish government, which the young Luttrell commuted for a pension. After a brief try at managing his father's estates in the West Indies (about 1802), Luttrell returned to London, where he was introduced into society by the duchess of Devonshire. He became popular as a fashionable wit and conversationalist,..
Abraham Fraunce, (born c. 1558, -60, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Eng.--died 1633), English poet, a protege of the poet and courtier Sir Philip Sidney.Fraunce was educated at Shrewsbury and at St. John's College, Cambridge, where his Latin comedy Victoria, dedicated to Sidney, was probably written. He was called to the bar at Gray's Inn in 1588 and then apparently practiced in the court of the Welsh marches. After the death of Sidney, Fraunce was sponsored by Sidney's sister Mary Herbert, countess of Pembroke. His last work was published in 1592, and nothing more is known until his death in 1633.Fraunce's..
Sir Thomas Wyatt, Wyatt also spelled Wyat, (born 1503, Allington, near Maidstone, Kent, Eng.--died Oct. 6, 1542, Sherborne, Dorset), poet who introduced the Italian sonnet and terza rima verse form and the French rondeau into English literature.Wyatt was educated at St. John's, Cambridge, and became a member of the court circle of Henry VIII, where he seems to have been popular and admired for his attractive appearance and skill in music, languages, and arms. Wyatt's fortunes at court fluctuated, however, and his association with the Boleyn family, as well as a rumoured affair with Anne Boleyn,..
John Chalkhill, (born c. 1595, possibly at Chalkhill House, Kingsbury, Middlesex, Eng.--died April 8, 1642, Westminster), English poet whose Thealma and Clearchus was published posthumously in 1683 by Izaak Walton, and who was identified in the third edition of Walton's Compleat Angler as the author of two songs which appeared there from the first edition (1653).Because little was known of Chalkhill's life, it was often speculated that he never existed save as a nom de plume for Walton or another, but in 1958 the mystery was solved with the discovery of eight distinctive autograph manuscripts..
Sidney Godolphin, (baptized Jan. 15, 1610--died Feb. 9, 1643, Chagford, Devon, Eng.), English poet and Royalist during the reign of Charles I.Educated at Exeter College, Oxford (1624-27), and at one of the Inns of Court, Godolphin traveled abroad and also became friends with Ben Jonson, Thomas Hobbes, and other men of letters. He was elected a member of the House of Commons (from Helston, Cornwall) in 1628 and was again elected to the Short Parliament in March 1640 and to the Long Parliament in October 1640. A staunch Royalist, he was a supporter of the doomed Earl of Strafford and was one of the last..
Thomas Stanley, (born 1625, Cumberlow, Hertfordshire, Eng.--died April 12, 1678, London), English poet, translator, and the first English historian of philosophy.Stanley was the son of Sir Thomas Stanley, himself the grandson of Thomas Stanley, a natural son of Edward Stanley, 3rd Earl of Derby. The younger Stanley was educated by William Fairfax, son of the translator of Torquato Tasso. He became a good classical scholar and an enthusiastic student of French, Italian, and Spanish poetry. Stanley entered Pembroke Hall (later College), Cambridge, in 1639 and studied there and at the University..
Thomas Carew, (born 1594/95, West Wickham, Kent, Eng.--died March 22, 1639/40, London), English poet and first of the Cavalier song writers.Educated at the University of Oxford and at the Middle Temple, London, Carew served as secretary at embassies in Venice, The Hague, and Paris. In 1630 Carew received a court appointment and became server at table to the king. The Earl of Clarendon considered him as "a person of pleasant and facetious wit" among a brilliant circle of friends that included the playwright Ben Jonson.Carew's only masque, Coelum Britannicum, was performed by the king and his..
Phineas Fletcher, (baptized April 8, 1582, Cranbrook, Kent, England--died 1650, Hilgay, Norfolk), English poet best known for his religious and scientific poem The Purple Island; or, The Isle of Man (1633).The elder son of Giles Fletcher the Elder and brother of Giles Fletcher the Younger, he was educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge. His pastoral drama Sicelides: A Piscatory was written in 1615 for performance before James I at King's College but was only produced after the king's departure; it was published in 1631. Fletcher became chaplain to Sir Henry Willoughby, who presented..
William Langland, (born c. 1330--died c. 1400), presumed author of one of the greatest examples of Middle English alliterative poetry, generally known as Piers Plowman, an allegorical work with a complex variety of religious themes. One of the major achievements of Piers Plowman is that it translates the language and conceptions of the cloister into symbols and images that could be understood by the layman. In general, the language of the poem is simple and colloquial, but some of the author's imagery is powerful and direct.There were originally thought to be three versions of Piers Plowman:..
Sir Stephen Spender, in full Sir Stephen Harold Spender, (born February 28, 1909, London, England--died July 16, 1995, London), English poet and critic, who made his reputation in the 1930s with poems expressing the politically conscience-stricken, leftist "new writing" of that period.A nephew of the Liberal journalist and biographer J.A. Spender, he was educated at University College School, London, and at University College, Oxford. While an undergraduate he met the poets W.H. Auden and C. Day-Lewis, and during 1930-33 he spent many months in Germany with the writer Christopher Isherwood...
John Gower, (born 1330?--died 1408, London?), medieval English poet in the tradition of courtly love and moral allegory, whose reputation once matched that of his contemporary and friend Geoffrey Chaucer, and who strongly influenced the writing of other poets of his day. After the 16th century his popularity waned, and interest in him did not revive until the middle of the 20th century.It is thought from Gower's language that he was of Kentish origin, though his family may have come from Yorkshire, and he was clearly a man of some wealth. Allusions in his poetry and other documents, however, indicate..