49 Facts About John Donne


John Donne is considered the preeminent representative of the metaphysical poets.


John Donne wrote secular poems as well as erotic and love poems.


John Donne is particularly famous for his mastery of metaphysical conceits.


John Donne spent much of the money he inherited during and after his education on womanising, literature, pastimes and travel.


In 1601, John Donne secretly married Anne More, with whom he had twelve children.


John Donne served as a member of Parliament in 1601 and in 1614.


John Donne was born in London in 1571 or 1572, into a recusant Roman Catholic family when practice of that religion was illegal in England.


John Donne's father, named John Donne, was married to Elizabeth Heywood.


John Donne was of Welsh descent and a warden of the Ironmongers Company in the City of London.


John Donne avoided unwelcome government attention out of fear of religious persecution.


John Donne's father died in 1576, when Donne was four years old, leaving his mother, Elizabeth, with the responsibility of raising the children alone.


John Donne's brother Henry was a university student prior to his arrest in 1593 for harbouring a Catholic priest, William Harrington, and died in Newgate Prison of bubonic plague, leading John Donne to begin questioning his Catholic faith.


John Donne later fought alongside the Earl of Essex and Sir Walter Raleigh against the Spanish at Cadiz and the Azores, and witnessed the loss of the Spanish flagship, the San Felipe.


John Donne was appointed chief secretary to the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, Sir Thomas Egerton, and was established at Egerton's London home, York House, Strand, close to the Palace of Whitehall, then the most influential social centre in England.


John Donne was released shortly thereafter when the marriage was proved to be valid, and he soon secured the release of the other two.


John Donne spent most of her married life either pregnant or nursing.


John Donne mourned her deeply, and wrote of his love and loss in his 17th Holy Sonnet.


In 1602, John Donne was elected as a member of parliament for the constituency of Brackley, but the post was not a paid position.


The fashion for coterie poetry of the period gave John Donne a means to seek patronage.


In 1610 and 1611, John Donne wrote two anti-Catholic polemics: Pseudo-Martyr and Ignatius His Conclave for Morton.


John Donne then wrote two Anniversaries, An Anatomy of the World and Of the Progress of the Soul for Drury.


John Donne sat as an MP again, this time for Taunton, in the Addled Parliament of 1614.


At length, John Donne acceded to the king's wishes, and in 1615 was an ordained priest in the Church of England.


In 1615, John Donne was awarded an honorary doctorate in divinity from Cambridge University.


John Donne became a Royal Chaplain in the same year.


John Donne became a reader of divinity at Lincoln's Inn in 1616, where he served in the chapel as minister until 1622.


In 1621, John Donne was made Dean of St Paul's, a leading and well-paid position in the Church of England, which he held until his death in 1631.


Blunham Parish Church has an imposing stained glass window commemorating John Donne, designed by Derek Hunt.


John Donne was buried in old St Paul's Cathedral, where a memorial statue of him by Nicholas Stone was erected with a Latin epigraph probably composed by himself.


The statue was said by Izaac Walton in his biography, to have been modelled from the life by John Donne to suggest his appearance at the resurrection.


John Donne's satires dealt with common Elizabethan topics, such as corruption in the legal system, mediocre poets and pompous courtiers.


John Donne did not publish these poems, although they circulated widely in manuscript form.


One such, a previously unknown manuscript that is believed to be one of the largest contemporary collections of John Donne's work, was found at Melford Hall in November 2018.


The change can be clearly seen in "An Anatomy of the World", a poem that John Donne wrote in memory of Elizabeth Drury, daughter of his patron, Sir Robert Drury of Hawstead, Suffolk.


Towards the end of his life John Donne wrote works that challenged death, and the fear that it inspired in many, on the grounds of his belief that those who die are sent to Heaven to live eternally.


John Donne's work has received much criticism over the years, especially concerning his metaphysical form.


John Donne is considered a master of the metaphysical conceit, an extended metaphor that combines two vastly different ideas into a single idea, often using imagery.


One of the most famous of John Donne's conceits is found in "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" where he compares the apartness of two separated lovers to the working of the legs of a compass.


John Donne's works are witty, employing paradoxes, puns and subtle yet remarkable analogies.


John Donne's pieces are often ironic and cynical, especially regarding love and human motives.


Common subjects of John Donne's poems are love, death and religion.


John Donne's poetry represented a shift from classical forms to more personal poetry.


John Donne is noted for his poetic metre, which was structured with changing and jagged rhythms that closely resemble casual speech.


John Donne's sermons are dated, sometimes specifically by date and year.


John Donne is remembered in the Calendar of Saints of the Church of England, the Episcopal Church liturgical calendar and the Calendar of Saints of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for his life as both poet and priest.


In 1911, the young Stanley Spencer devoted a visionary painting to John Donne arriving in heaven which is in the Fitzwilliam Museum.


The idea that John Donne's writings reflect two distinct stages of his life remains common; however, many scholars have challenged this understanding.


Posthumous editions of John Donne's poems were accompanied by several "Elegies upon the Author" over the course of the next two centuries.


John Donne plays a significant role in Christie Dickason's The Noble Assassin, a novel based on the life of Donne's patron and his lover, Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford.