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John Donne

Biography and Early Life: – John Donne was born in London in 1571 or 1572 into a recusant Roman Catholic family. – His father’s early […]

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Biography and Early Life:
– John Donne was born in London in 1571 or 1572 into a recusant Roman Catholic family.
– His father’s early death left his mother to raise him and his siblings alone.
– Donne was privately educated and attended universities but could not graduate due to his Catholicism.
– He spent his inheritance on literature, travel, and fighting alongside notable figures.
– Donne’s marriage to Anne More caused his dismissal and imprisonment, leading to financial struggles.

Career and Legacy:
– Donne served as a Member of Parliament and later became an Anglican deacon and priest.
– His works, including over 160 sermons and famous poems, challenged traditional beliefs and emphasized salvation and immortality.
– Donne’s influence extended to Romantic and 20th-century poets and critics.
– He is known for his metaphysical style, metaphysical conceits, and innovative use of metaphor.
– Donne’s legacy is marked by his contributions to poetry, religious writings, and his innovative metaphysical form.

Poetic Works and Style:
– Donne is considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets.
– His poems feature abrupt openings, paradoxes, and dramatic speech rhythms.
– Themes in Donne’s poetry include true religion, society, and metaphysical ideas.
– Despite facing financial struggles, Donne’s poetic talents and education were highly regarded.
– Donne’s secular, erotic, and love poems showcase his mastery of metaphysical conceits.

Death and Writings:
– John Donne died in 1631 and was buried in old St. Paul’s Cathedral.
– His writings include early poems critiquing English society, satires addressing religious matters, and later religious poems challenging death.
– Donne’s style, known for metaphysical conceits, has been both praised and criticized by different literary movements.
– Posthumous editions of Donne’s poems were accompanied by Elegies, and his life has inspired various historical novels and literary explorations.
– Donne’s son unified his texts around an impression of Donne’s divinity in a 1652 volume, shaping the narrative of his legacy.

Literary Influence and Visual Representations:
– Donne’s influence extended to Romantic and 20th-century poets and critics, with his works being studied and admired for their metaphysical style.
– Various historical novels and literary works have explored episodes from Donne’s life, courtship of Anne More, and relationships.
– Musical settings of Donne’s lyrics date back to his lifetime and continue to be created by composers like Benjamin Britten and John Adams.
– Visual representations of Donne include portraits at the National Portrait Gallery and monuments at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
– Commemorations and tributes to Donne have been ongoing, with artistic depictions and statues celebrating his legacy.

John Donne (Wikipedia)

John Donne (/dʌn/ DUN) (1571 or 1572 – 31 March 1631) was an English poet, scholar, soldier and secretary born into a recusant family, who later became a cleric in the Church of England. Under royal patronage, he was made Dean of St Paul's Cathedral in London (1621–1631). He is considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His poetical works are noted for their metaphorical and sensual style and include sonnets, love poems, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs and satires. He is also known for his sermons.

John Donne
Donne, painted by Isaac Oliver
Donne, painted by Isaac Oliver
Born1571 or 1572
London, England
Died31 March 1631(1631-03-31) (aged 59)
London, England
  • Poet
  • priest
  • lawyer
Alma materHart Hall, Oxford
University of Cambridge
GenreSatire, love poetry, elegy, sermons
SubjectLove, sexuality, religion, death
Literary movementMetaphysical poetry
Anne More
(m. 1601; died 1617)
Children12 (incl. John and George)
RelativesEdward Alleyn (son-in-law)

Donne's style is characterised by abrupt openings and various paradoxes, ironies and dislocations. These features, along with his frequent dramatic or everyday speech rhythms, his tense syntax and his tough eloquence, were both a reaction against the smoothness of conventional Elizabethan poetry and an adaptation into English of European baroque and mannerist techniques. His early career was marked by poetry that bore immense knowledge of English society. Another important theme in Donne's poetry is the idea of true religion, something that he spent much time considering and about which he often theorised. He wrote secular poems as well as erotic and love poems. He is particularly famous for his mastery of metaphysical conceits.

Despite his great education and poetic talents, Donne lived in poverty for several years, relying heavily on wealthy friends. He spent much of the money he inherited during and after his education on womanising, literature, pastimes and travel. In 1601, Donne secretly married Anne More, with whom he had twelve children. In 1615 he was ordained Anglican deacon and then priest, although he did not want to take holy orders and only did so because the king ordered it. He served as a member of Parliament in 1601 and in 1614.

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