Dryden, John

Dryden, John

biographical name

(born Aug. 9, 1631, Aldwinkle, Northamptonshire, Eng.—died May 1, 1700, London) British poet, dramatist, and literary critic. The son of a country gentleman, Dryden was educated at the University of Cambridge. His poetry celebrating the Restoration so pleased Charles II that he was named poet laureate (1668) and, two years later, royal historiographer. Even after losing the laureateship and his court patronage in 1688 with the accession of William III, he succeeded in dominating the literary scene with his numerous works, many attuned to politics and public life. Several of his nearly 30 comedies, tragedies, and dramatic operas—including Marriage A-la-Mode (1672), Aureng-Zebe (1675), and All for Love (1677)—were outstandingly successful. His Of Dramatick Poesie (1668) was the first substantial piece of modern dramatic criticism. Turning away from drama, he became England's greatest verse satirist, producing the masterpieces Absalom and Achitophel (1681) and Mac Flecknoe (1682). He also produced extensive translations of Latin poetry, including Virgil's Aeneid.

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