What people are saying - Write a review
Born August 9, 1631 into a wealthy Puritan family, John Dryden received an excellent education at Westminster School and Cambridge University. After a brief period in government, he turned his attention almost entirely to writing. Dryden was one of the first English writers to make his living strictly by writing, but this meant he had to cater to popular taste. His long career was astonishingly varied, and he turned his exceptional talents to almost all literary forms. Dryden dominated the entire Restoration period as a poet, playwright, and all-round man of letters. He was the third poet laureate of England. In his old age Dryden was virtually a literary "dictator" in England, with an immense influence on eighteenth-century poetry. His verse form and his brilliant satires became models for other poets, but they could rarely equal his standard. Dryden was also a master of "occasional" poetry - verse written for a specific person or special occasion. Like most poets of his time, Dryden saw poetry as a way of expressing ideas rather than emotions, which makes his poetry seem cool and impersonal to some modern readers. Dryden also wrote numerous plays that helped him make him one of the leading figures in the Restoration theatre. Today, however he is admired more for his influence on other writers than for his own works. He died on April 30, 1700 in London.
W. H. Auden, who was born in York, England, on February 21, 1907, is one of the most successful and well-known poets of the 20th century. Educated at Oxford, Auden served in the Spanish Civil War, which greatly influenced his work. He also taught in public schools in Scotland and England during the 1930s. It was during this time that he rose to public fame with such works as "Paid on Both Sides" and "The Orators." Auden eventually immigrated to the United States, becoming a citizen in 1946. It was in the U.S. that he met his longtime partner Chester Kallman. Stylistically, Auden was known for his incomparable technique and his linguistic innovations. The term Audenesque became an adjective to describe the contemporary sounding speech reflected in his poems. Auden's numerous awards included a Bollingen Prize in Poetry, A National Book Award for "The Shield of Achilles," a National Medal for Literature from the National Book Committee, and a Gold Medal from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Numerous volumes of his poetry remain available today, including "About the House" and "City Without Walls." W.H. Auden died on September 28, 1973 in Vienna.