John Dryden

John Dryden, 1631–1700, English poet, dramatist, and critic, b. Northamptonshire, grad. Cambridge, 1654. He went to London about 1657 and first came to public notice with his Heroic Stanzas (1659), commemorating the death of Oliver Cromwell. The following year, however, he celebrated the restoration of Charles II with Astraea Redux. In 1662 he was elected to the Royal Society, and in 1663 he married Lady Elizabeth Howard. His long poem on the Dutch War, Annus Mirabilis, appeared in 1667. The following year he became poet laureate. He had a long and varied career as a dramatist. His most notable plays include the heroic dramas, The Conquest of Granada (2 parts, 1670–71) and Aurenz-Zebe (1675); his blank-verse masterpiece, All for Love (1677), a retelling of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra; and the comedy Marriage à la Mode (1672). His great political satire on Monmouth and Shaftesbury, Absalom and Achitophel, appeared in two parts (1681, 1682). It was followed by MacFlecknoe (1682), an attack on Thomas Shadwell, and Religio Laici (1682), a poetical exposition of the Protestant layman's creed. In 1687, however, Dryden announced his conversion to Roman Catholicism in The Hind and the Panther. The preceding poems, as well as his Pindaric odes, "Alexander's Feast" and "Ode to the Memory of Mrs. Anne Killigrew," place him among the most notable English poets. With the accession of the Protestant William III, Dryden lost his laureateship and court patronage. Throughout his life he wrote brilliant critical prefaces, prologues, and discourses, dealing with the principles of literary excellence. The best example is his Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668). The last part of his life was occupied largely with translations from Juvenal, Vergil, and others. A 21-volume edition of his complete works was begun in 1956 under the general editorship of E. N. Hooker and H. T. Swedenberg.

See biography by C. E. Ward (1961); studies by L. I. Brevold (1953), M. Van Doren (1920, repr. 1969), J. and H. Kinsley, ed. (1971), A. C. Kirsch (1965, repr. 1972), E. Miner, ed. (1973); J. M. Hall (1984).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

John Dryden: A Critical Biography
Kenneth Young.
Sylvan Press, 1954
John Dryden (1631-1700): His Politics, His Plays, and His Poets
Claude Rawson; Aaron Santeeso.
University of Delaware Press, 2004
Marriage à la Mode
Mark S. Auburn; John Dryden.
University of Nebraska Press, 1981
English Drama, 1660-1700
Derek Hughes.
Clarendon Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Two "Astraea Redux? Drama, 1660-1668"
John Dryden: Tercentenary Essays
Paul Hammond; David Hopkins.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Nothing to Admire: The Politics of Poetic Satire from Dryden to Merrill
Christopher Yu.
Oxford University Press, 2003
Radical Royalism: Strategy and Ambivalence in Dryden's Tragicomedies
Coltharp, Duane.
Philological Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 4, Fall 1999
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Gender, Theatre, and the Origins of Criticism: From Dryden to Manley
Marcie Frank.
Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "Equal to Ourselves: John Dryden's National Literary History" and Chap. 2 "Staging Criticism, Staging Milton: John Dryden's The Style of Innocence"
Dryden and the Traces of Classical Rome
Paul H. Hammond.
Oxford University Press, 1999
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