John Donne and the Ancient Catholic Nobility


Against the background of the earliest, puzzling portrait of John Donne, this book attempts to place Donne's early life in the context of his descent from Sir Thomas More and his family's generations-long association with the ancient Catholic nobility. Beginning with Sir Thomas More, Flynn traces the active involvement of two generations of Donne's forebears in political opposition to Tudor religious reform. Flynn suggests an alliance in opposition to persecution between Donne's family and the houses of Percy and Stanley, especially through the missionary work of Donne's uncle Jasper Heywood and Donne's friendship with Henry Percy, ninth Earl of Northumberland. Percy's continental travels in the 1580s may be related to the early travels of Donne and to the plans of Catholic exiles for an invasion of England six years before the defeat of the Armada. Seen within a larger familial, social, and religious context in which exile and persecution for religious belief were the overriding experiences, thedistinctive marks of Donne's personality emerge with new clarity. An important contribution to Donne studies, Flynn's book will have an impact on how Donne's poetry is read.


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