John Dryden

[John Dryden] Poet and dramatist, born Oldwinkle All Saints, Northamptonshire, England, 1631; died London, England, 1700. After receiving the degree of B.A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, he immediately gained recognition as a poet upon the publication of "Heroic Stanzas" on the death of Oliver Cromwell, 1658. Joining the Royalists he celebrated the Restoration by writing "Astræa Redux." In 1662 he decided to follow a career as a dramatist, and as author of numerous plays produced in London he was made poet laureate and royal historiographer, 1870. The unsettled state of the government caused him to write a series of satires, the first of which, "Absalom and Achitophel," brought down a storm of libels upon him, but merited for him first place among the English satirical poets. After his conversion to Catholicism in 1616, the majority of his poems were written in defense of the Faith, most notably, "The Hind and the Panther." This work is divided into three parts: the first describes the different sects in England under allegorical figures of beasts; the second deals with a controversy between the Hind (the Catholic Church) and the Panther (the Church of England); the third continues this dialogue and develops personal and doctrinal satire. In 1688 he translated the "Life of Saint Francis Xavier" from the French of Father Dominique Bouhours. His critical writings were numerous and various. Dryden's position in English literature is of great importance as a poet, dramatist, critic, and translator. His poems include "Annus Mirabilis" and "Alexander's Feast." Among his plays is "All for Love."

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