Poet Biographys

  • Created by: Hope
  • Created on: 11-05-15 22:52

Henry Howard

‘Love that doth reign and live within my thought’

  • One of the first poets to write in sonnet form
  • Fought in many different wars – Scotland, France
  • Often imprisoned – thought to be sympathising with rebels
  • Cousin of Anne Boleyn
  • Beheaded for treason – Paranoid Henry VIII
  • Known as controversial character
  • Flamboyant, foolish, proud
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Robert Southwell

'New Prince, New Pomp'

  • Extremely religious – Jesuit preist – devoted, blind obedience
  • Martyed for religion
  • Wrote ‘New Prince, New Pomp’ whilst waiting to be hung
  • Cannonised by Pope Paul IV
  • When Jesus was born, under ‘Herold the Great’ – All new born boys in Bethlehem killed
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Robert Southwell

'New Prince, New Pomp'

  • Extremely religious – Jesuit preist – devoted, blind obedience
  • Martyed for religion
  • Wrote ‘New Prince, New Pomp’ whilst waiting to be hung
  • Cannonised by Pope Paul IV
  • When Jesus was born, under ‘Herold the Great’ – All new born boys in Bethlehem killed
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William Shakespeare

'Sonnet CXXX'

  • Sonnet 130 – Criticising conventions of love poetry, Petrarch wrote love poetry for Laura – Used lots of metaphors , all dark lady poems do not idolise
  • Lived during English renaissance
  • Married to Anne Hathaway – Known to have affairs, left after 2 years to travel
  • Part of collection of ‘Dark Lady Poems’
  • Enters in Sonnet 127 – both love, lusts and hates her
  • From narrators perspective, he’s treated badly
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John Donne

'Batter My Heart'

  • Most famous metaphysical poet
  • Philosophical movement studying things we cant know (God)
  • Often wrote about love and death
  • In early life spent lots of money on womanising, literature and travelling
  • 1601 – Secretly married Anne Moore
  • Had 12 children
  • Died of child birth – poetry changed from love to death and religion
  • ‘Batter my heart’ written after wifes death
  • Became Anglican preist
  • Member of parliament
  • Poems where noted for vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor 
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Robert Herrick

'To Virgins, To Make Much Of Time'

  • ·      Lived reasonably difficult life
  • o   Father died when 1 years old
  • o   Ejected from vicarage – Relied on charity
  • o   But became a vicar again
  • ·      Bachelor all his life, women in poems said to be fictional
  • ·      Loved the richness and sensuality and variety of life
  • ·      Over riding message of poem = Life is short, world is beautiful, love is splendid, must make use of time here
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John Milton

'On His Blindness'

  • Wrote during time of religious flux and political upheaval
  • Milton often advocated abolition of Church of England
  • Became Blind
  • Thought himself useless
  • Wrote best work – Paradise Lost, after blindness
  • Wrote on his blindness – Allusion to parable of the talents, not using talent
  • Married a 16 year old who couldn’t live with him so moved away
  • Wrote pamphlets for divorce
  • Milton’s poetry reflected deep, personal conflictions, passion for freedom and determination
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Anne Bradstreet

'To My Dear and Loving Husband'

  • Strict puritan upbringing
  • Puritan
  • Simple life style – reflects bible
  • Frown upon creative expression – poetry should serve God
  • Everything is pre-destined
  • Anything appealing to senses or emotions viewed as dangerous
  • Concerned with heaven and hell
  • Didn’t have easy life style – raised 8 children, moved from England to America
  • Wrote for herself – Brother published them
  • ‘To My Dear and Loving Husband’ = more personal, expressing joys and difficulties of puritan life
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Andrew Marvell

'The Mower Against Gardens'

  • English meta-physical poet and politician
  • Characterised by wit, includes far fetched similies and metaphors
  • Religious and scientific
  • Acedemic and emotional
  • Travelled a lot through Europe – Spoke in 4 languages
  • Breifly considered Catholicism as a child
  • Spent time as a tutor at Nun Appleton – beautiful gardens
  • Died suddenly, thought to have been poisoned by political enemies
  • First of four poems:
  • ‘Mover to a glo-worm’
  • ‘Mowers song’
  • Upon Appleton House’
  • A History of Grafting: Testing genetic limits of fruit, vegetables and plants
  • 17th Century very concerned with compatability
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Jonathon Swift

'A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General'

  • Irish author, politician and satirist 
  • Introduced to politics through William Temple, he was his assistant - helped with errands
  • Released poltical pamphlets - 'A tale of a tub and battle of the books' - Got him recognised - Critisied religion he was an Anglican Priest, dissaproved by Church of England 
  • Became editor of the Torie paper 'The Examiner' 
  • Written upon the death of English general 'John Churchill' 
  • John Churchill has checkered diplomatic and military career - One of Swifts political enemys
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William Blake

'The Tyger' 

  • English poet, painter and print maker - Largely unrecognised during life
  • Came from family of dissenters but brought up on the BIble - took lots of inspiration from it 
  • Spiritual but didnt believe in the chuch - Didn't like the laws of the church 
  • Very imaginiate as a child 
  • Used to sit outside of Westminister Abbey for inspiration - claimed to have seen Jesus and Apostles
  • Diverse and symbolically rich work. Embraced imagination as body of God or reason for existence - Seen as mad by lots of people
  • Poem has simple appearance by not simple message
  • Part of 'Songs of Experience'
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William Wordsworth

'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud'

  • Wordsworths parents died when he was very young - He was then rasied in the mountains in a rustic society - spent lots of time outdoors
  • He had a soft, emotional view of the world 
  • Hugely connected to nature - released theory that children where most connected to nature - We calll come from a perfect, ideal realm - earth is unideal 
  • In his poetry he emphasised feeling, simplicity and pleasure of beauty 
  • He changed poetry forever, START OF ROMANTIC ERA
  • 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' is his most famous work
  • Inspired by event where him and his sister on a walk came across belt of daffodills
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Samuel Taylor Coleridge

'Kubla Khan'

  • Experienced a very difficult life - 
  • Father died when he was 8
  • Problematic relationship with mother
  • He was rejected by the love of his life
  • Married Sarah Ficker - very unhappy, hated her
  • Suffered from severe depression - became addicted to opium, took over his life
  • He died from heart failure - could have been a result of the opium
  • He was a romantic poet - intense emotion, close connection with nature, promoted imagination
  • Good friends with William Wordsworth 
  • He promoted a pantisocracy society (equality)
  • Kubla Khan came from an opium dream 
  • His dream can be analysed by Freud as a want for power
  • Kubla Khan - Grandson of Genghis Khan, his power was limited to China 
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Thomas Love Peacock

'The War Song of Dinas Vawr'

  • Married Jane Gryffydh - daughter of a Welsh farmer
  • Read widely in 5 languages
  • Peacock mixed with many contemporary romantic poets - however often criticised them 
  • The poem portrays the delight of Welsh men stealing sheep 
  • 'A War Song of DInas Vawr' comes from book 'The Misfortunes of Elphen' - Book reflects interest in Welsh legends and history 
  • The poem was put to music - sounds like a folk song 
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George Gordon Byron

'She Walks In Beauty'

  • Romantic Poet
  • Numerous illegitimate children and affairs
  • Had an eccentric and wild character 
  • Described as 'mad, bad and dangerous to know' by Lady Caroline Lamb who was once his wife but she divorced him as he was too difficult
  • He died from war casualtys
  • Poem is based on his cousin 
  • His cousin is rejecting him because she is too pure and perfect
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Percy Bysshe Shelly


  • Major english romantic poet
  • Wasnt sure in what he believed
  • Had an interesting life - Eloped with Harriet Westbrook, had an affair with Mary Godwin who he fell inlove with, Harriet commited suicide so he married Mary
  • He drowned in a sudden storm on a sailing boat - suicide? couldnt steer? murdered?
  • Ozymandias: written after British meuseums acquisition of fragment of statue, another name of Pharoh Rameses II
  • Can be read a criticism of people or systems that become too big and believe themselves to be invincible
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John Clare

'First Love' 

  • Lived very poor life, one of the only examples of a middle class poet
  • Found little money in poetry and struggled with where to spend time 
  • Became agricultural labourer while child, then was a gardener
  • Known for his beautiful representations of english countryside
  • Fell in love with Mary Joyce but her father forbade them seeing eachother 
  • Married Martha Turner but didnt love her
  • BEcame an alcholic and went mad
  • Mental health worsened and was admitted to an asylum where he died
  • Once he escaped sayign to be looking for Mary who had died years previous
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John Keats

'Natures Questioning'

  • Experienced lots of hardships and death - father died, mother remarried 2 months after, then she died. Very close with brothers - one brother died from consumption during winter, other brother moved to America
  • New romantic poet - heavely influenced by Milton and Shakespeare.
  • Went on a walking tour to meet Wordsworth - enjoyed long walks, close to nature
  • Autumn: When he met the love of his life, he became ill and knew he wouldnt survive the winter - consumption. When everything dies. 
  • Only wrote for three years - creative urgency
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Elizabeth Barrett Browning

'A Musical Instrument'

  • Lived wealthy childhood - unlike rest of family spent time immersed in books - very smart - studied history of England and Greece. Had Greek and Latin tutor 
  • Wrote lots on Greece - 'An Essay On Mind', became good friends with Boyd - greek researcher
  • Family lost money and she moved from Devon to London
  • Married Robert Barrett Browning in secret
  • Work has a very religious theme 
  • She was admired for her independence and courage in views
  • Battled a life long illness from 15 - became dependent on opium and methane - could be reason for vivid imagination.
  • Poem comes from 'Poems before Congress' - her last work
  • Poem tells story of Pan - Pan is both beauty and destruction - Duality of Art
  • Art beings both beauty and destruction
  • Greek God of Sheperds- part God, human and goat
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Alfred Lord Tennyson

'Break, Break, Break' 

  • Very popular english poet during Victorian Era
  • Wrote about things common to everyone - love, death, grief 
  • Born by the sea
  • Tennyson's best friend died from sudden brain hemmorage - 'Halam' - He was engaged to his sister, effected everyone deeply
  • Also wrote 'In Memorium' about his friends death which is said to be his most famous work. Queen Victoria on Prince Alberts death: 'Next to the Bible, In Memorium is my comfort
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Emily Bronte


  • Mother died of cancer when Emily was 3 years old 
  • She was the 3rd eldest of 4 Bronte siblings - 2 oldest sisters died of tuberculosis
  • Encountered abuse at school and then father and aunt where very strict
  • Girls released poetry under pseudonyms - 'Ellis Bell'
  • One of her teachers said she had 'a strong character and should have been a man'
  • Spellbound = setting of poem is bleak, similar to yorkshire moors where she lived
  • Girls wrote fiction in free time -
  • Gondola: Fictional island with myths and legends - suggested poem is set in Gondola, centres around heroin who has been put on a spell to leave her child in the mountains 
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Arthur Hugh Clough

'There is no God, The Wicked Saith'

  • As a child/young adult he was very acedemic 
  • When he attended Oxford he felt Catholicism was being pushed on him - for a time influenced but rejected it
  • Witnessed multiple revolutions which inspired him 
  • Suffered periods of religious doubt
  • Regarded as one of the most forward thinking poets of the 19th Century - went against popular religion and social ideals
  • Devoted lots of energy to helping Florence Nightingale 
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Emily Dickinson


  • Lived very untroubled life - privallaged 
  • Parents where strictly puritan - didn't pay her much attention
  • Troubled at a young age by the idea of death - Close second cousin died (left her traumatised), became depressed due to her friends and familys deaths - didn't leave her house unless completely necessary - recluse
  • Known for her disruptive dashes, heavy iambic pentametre and imprecise rhyme 
  • People tried to disuade her from publishing - Because she was a woman and more modern 
  • Many of her poems centred around death and immortality 
  • Less archaic, more modern 
  • Beginning of modernism 
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Thomas Hardy

'Natures Questioning'

  • Victorian realist - presents familiar things as they are
  • Influenced by romantics e.g. Wordsworth - Also Charles Dickens however he was omore critised of the declining rural society
  • Never felt 'at home' in London - too industrial 
  • He fell in love with Emma Lavinia in cornwall but they broke up - however when she died it affected him a lot 
  • Often examined social restraints espeically those related to marriage, educationa nd religion that limited peoples happiness
  • Natures questioning came from his first publishing 
  • Very traditional poet, influenced by ballads and folksongs
  • Family was Anglican not devout - mainly agnostic but questioned God due to science
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Gerard Manley Hopkins

 'Gods Grandeur'

  • Born in Essex - Becoming industrial, moved up North parents wanted to be closer to nature = closer to God 
  • Grew up in devoutly Anglican household - very religious: Converted to catholicism - saw his talent as a gift from God 
  • During his life time, society experimenting with electricity - introduced to community
  • Couldnt decide whether to devout life to God or poetry - wrote poems about God. 
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