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Carew, Thomas


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Thomas Carew (pronounced ‘Carey’) (1594/95–1640) was a seventeenth-century poet and courtier. The earl of Clarendon's comment that Carew's life was ‘spent with less Severity or Exactness than it ought to have been’ has powerfully shaped the poet's reputation, but much of Carew's literary work belies his reputation as a carefree, urbane wit. Carew is closely associated with a group of lyricists known as the ‘Cavalier’ poets, which included John Suckling, Robert Herrick, and Richard Lovelace. Cavalier poetry focused on exploring and defining what it meant to live the good life. On the one hand, the good life was defined by pleasure, wit, and elegance; on the other, it demanded constancy, integrity, and candour. Carew was probably born in Kent. His mother was the daughter of the lord mayor of London. His father was a civil lawyer, master in chancery, and justice of the peace for Surrey and Hampshire. After receiving his BA from Oxford, Carew began to read law at the Middle Temple, but it quickly became clear that he was not cut out to be a lawyer. In 1613 Carew left his studies to become the secretary of Sir Dudley Carleton, whom he accompanied on an embassy to Italy, where he became familiar with Italian poetry and philosophy. Carew also joined Carleton on an embassy to the Netherlands in 1616, but he was quickly dismissed for writing a satire on Carleton and his wife. The next record ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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