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Sunday, 9 November 2014

John Dryden

English poet and playwright John Dryden (1631 – 1700) was the oldest of fourteen children born to Erasmus Dryden and wife Mary Pickering.

After graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge, Dryden went to London and got work with the Secretary of State, John Thurloe.

Portrait of John Dryden by Sir Godfrey Kneller

Dryden married the royalist sister of Sir Robert Howard—Lady Elizabeth on December 1, 1663. They had three sons.

John Dryden became the first official Poet Laureate in 1668. The holder's original salary was £200 a year plus a butt of canary (110 gallons of Spanish sherry).

As Poet Laurate, Dryden was contracted to make three plays a year for the King's Company.

When Charles II died and was replaced on the English throne by the Catholic James II, .Dryden in an act of political expediency, converted to Catholicism. He wrote The Hound and the Panther to defend his conversion.

Three years after James II ‘s ascension to the throne, the Protestant William of Orange landed in Devon and advanced to London unopposed deposing the Catholic king. John Dryden lost the post of poet Laureate due to his Catholic religion.

John Dryden also wrote operas, notably King Arthur (1691), with music by Purcell.

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