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Donne, John


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


John Donne (1572–1631) was one of the most original poets of the early seventeenth century, and his verse has engaged readers and students for hundreds of years. Donne was born in London, son of ironmonger John Donne and Elizabeth Heywood, whose father was the playwright John Heywood. On his mother's side, Donne was related to the families of John Rastell and Sir Thomas More, and like them, Donne was raised as a Roman Catholic. He matriculated from Hart Hall, Oxford, in October 1584, but left without taking a degree. His subsequent whereabouts are unknown until May 1592, when he was admitted to Lincoln's Inn. In 1596 and 1597 he served on the Cadiz and Azores missions led by Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, and on his return to England, he was appointed secretary to lord keeper Sir Thomas Egerton, and sat in the 1601 Parliament. By this time, Donne was presumably a practising Protestant. It is believed that many of his satires and erotic elegies can be dated to the 1590s, when they circulated in manuscript to a coterie audience. None of these was published in print, however, until the posthumous 1633 collection, Poems . In December 1601 Donne married Lady Egerton's niece Ann More in a secret ceremony, which led to a short imprisonment in the Fleet, and dismissal from his post. The Donnes left London, moving to Pyford and then to Mitcham in Surrey, where Donne worked as a lawyer, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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