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John Dryden

John Dryden (August 9 (?), 1631 - May 12 (?), 1700) was a influential English poet and playwright. He was born at a village rectory in Northamptonshire and educated at Westminster School and Trinity College. He was a professional writer throughout his life. His early plays, often heroic tragedy, met with highly variable success but served to promote his name and his Royalist sentiments. Arriving in London during the Protectorate, he attempted to capitalise on the Parliamentarian sympathies of his family, but failed to make much impact until the Restoration of King Charles II. His poem, Astrea Redux, in honour of this event, made him a name, and he followed it up with plays in verse, such as The Indian Emperor, a wholly fictitious account of the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards.

By 1663, he was prominent enough to be accepted as a suitable husband for Lady Elizabeth Howard, but his reputation was not really made until Annus Mirabilis, a celebration of the events of 1666. In 1668, he was appointed to succeed William Davenant as Poet Laureate, a post which he would lose when King James II was deposed twenty years later. He continued to lead the way in Restoration comedy, his best known work being All for Love[?] (1678). He was also made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1663 and in 1668 he was made Poet laureate (until 1689). From the 1680s Dryden concentrated on poetry where his use of the rhymed couplet is considered brilliant, although he continued to write plays and composed several librettoes. In 1686 he converted to Catholicism. He also made some popular translations of Virgil's Aeneid and works by Horace, Ovid and Homer. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Noted works include: Astraea Redux (1660), The Indian Emperor (1665), Annus Mirabilis (1667), An Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668), Tyrannick Love (1669), Marriage A-la-Mode (1672), The Conquest of Granada (1670), All for Love (1677), Absalom and Achitophel (1681), The Hind and the Panther (1687), Amphitryon (1690), Don Sebastian (1690).

His eldest son, Charles Dryden, became chamberlain to Pope Innocent XII.

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