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Edgar Allan Poe

b. 1809 d. 1849

Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1809, the son of poverty-stricken actors.

Edmund Spenser

b. 1553 d. 1599

Edmund Spenser is often mentioned alongside Shakespeare, Marlowe and Donne as one of the greatest poets of the Elizabethan period.

Edward Thomas

b. 1878 d. 1917

Edward Thomas wrote all his poetry in less than three years, between 1914, when he wrote his first, and 1917, when he was killed in the Battle of Arras.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

b. 1806 d. 1861

Elizabeth Barrett was born in 1806, the eldest of twelve children of Edward Barrett, whose fortune was derived from Jamaican plantations.

Emily Bronte

b. 1818 d. 1848

Emily Bronte was born in 1818, the daughter of Irishman Patrick Bronte, perpetual curate of Haworth, Yorkshire. Emily's mother died in 1821, leaving five daughters and a son to the care of their aunt.

Emily Dickinson

b. 1830 d. 1886

Only seven of Emily Dickinson's poems were published in her lifetime; these were heavily edited. Many of the rest were found after her death, in little packets bound together to make small books.

Ethel Carnie Holdsworth

b. 1886 d. 1962

Ethel Carnie Holdsworth (1886 –1962), grew up in East Lancashire. She is now best known as a working-class writer, feminist, and socialist activist, but she was first noticed as a poet, journalist and children's writer.

Felicia Hemans

b. 1793 d. 1835

Felicia Hemans’s ‘Casabianca’ took on such a vibrant life of its own after her death that, somehow, its author became almost irrelevant.

Frederick Tuckerman

b. 1821 d. 1873

Tuckerman’s beloved wife died in childbirth, and a powerful sense of grief and loss permeates many of his poems.

G. K. Chesterton

b. 1874 d. 1936

Chesterton is probably best known for his popular priest-detective Father Brown, who appeared in over fifty short stories.

George Herbert

b. 1593 d. 1633

George Herbert was born in Montgomery Castle, Shropshire, in 1593 and died at the age of forty. He was descended on his father's side from the earls of Pembroke and on his mother's from a family of Shropshire knights.

George Meredith

b. 1828 d. 1909

George Meredith was a Victorian poet, author and journalist.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

b. 1844 d. 1889

Gerard Hopkins was born in 1844, went to Highgate School and won a scholarship to Balliol College Oxford where he took a double first in Classics.

Hannah More

b. 1745 d. 1833

Hannah More’s poem was written in support of William Wilberforce’s campaign to abolish slavery. A passionate, poetic explanation of the anti-abolitionists’ argument, this extract is part of a 294‑line poem.

Henry King

b. 1592 d. 1669

The son of an influential Bishop of London, Henry King followed in his father’s footsteps to pursue a career in the Church, which culminated in his appointment as Bishop of Chichester, a position he held during a very turbulent period in British h

Henry Vaughan

b. 1621 d. 1625

Henry Vaughan was born in 1621 in the Welsh country parish of Llansantffread between the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, where he lived for nearly the whole of his life. His younger twin brother, Thomas, became a reputed alchemist.

Isaac Rosenberg

b. 1890 d. 1918

Isaac Rosenberg was born in Bristol in 1890, the son of Russian immigrants; his father was a learned Jew who scraped a living as a pedlar and market trader.

Ivor Gurney

b. 1890 d. 1937

Ivor Gurney suffered periods of mental ill health before the First World War, but his condition had deteriorated significantly by the end of the conflict. He had joined up after initially being rejected and was subsequently wounded and gassed.

Joanna Baillie

b. 1762 d. 1851

Baillie was a Scottish playwright, critic and poet who lived most of her life in Hampstead, where she was the centre of a rich literary culture.

John Clare

b. 1793 d. 1864

John Clare, the son of a casual labourer, was born in Helpstone, Northamptonshire.

John Donne

b. 1572 d. 1631

John Donne was the greatest non-dramatic poet of his time, and its most admired preacher. He was born in 1571, a Londoner and the son of Catholic parents. In his teens, he attended both Oxford and Cambridge, and in his early twenties studied law.

John Dryden

b. 1631 d. 1700

John Dryden was one of the dominant literary figures of the English Restoration period. He began his prolific and versatile writing career in the Puritan era before Charles II became king, and wrote verses on the death of Oliver Cromwell.

John Keats

b. 1795 d. 1821

Keats was born in London in 1795. His father was killed in a riding accident when Keats was eight; his mother died six years later, probably from tuberculosis.

John Milton

b. 1608 d. 1674

John Milton was born in 1608 in Bread Street, Cheapside, the son of a composer and scrivener. He was educated at St Paul's School and Christ's College, Cambridge and seemed destined for the priesthood.

John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

b. 1647 d. 1680

John Wilmot was born in 1647, the son of Henry Wilmot, a celebrated Royalist who had led the cavalry at the Battle of Edgehill.