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John Dryden (Life's summary)

Updated on November 20, 2011

Dryden was born in 1631 at Aldwinkle All Saints (Northamptonshire), in a family of Puritan tradition. He was educated at Westminster School and then at Trinity College of Cambridge, where he graduated in 1654. In 1657 Dryden went to London to begin his literary career and soon became famous as a poet. Arriving in London during the Protectorate, he obtained work with Crowell's Secretary of State. In 1663 the author turned to the stage and wrote several plays. He married the royalist sister of Sir Robert Howard, Lady Elizabeth. His success and his rising fame gained him the appointment of Poet Laureate in 1668 at the Court of Charles II and, two years later, of Historiographer Royal. During the reign of James II, Dryden converted to Roman Catholicism, and after the Revolution of 1688, which brought about the reverse of fortune to the Catholics, he remained loyal to his religious faith, even if it cost him the loss of his post as Poet Laureate. He retired from public life and devoted himself to poetry and literature. Dryden died in 1700 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.


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