John Dryden 1631-1700
John DRYDEN 1631-1700
Born at Aldwincle, Northamptonshire, son of Erasmus Dryden. BA Trinity College, Cambridge 1654, after which he spent time as a government secretary. After the Restoration he turned increasingly to writing as a poet and playwright; his first play, The wild gallant (1663) was not a great success, but many others followed in the 1660s and 70s to establish his reputation. He was appointed poet laureate in 1668, and historiographer royal in 1670. His conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1685 made his position more difficult after 1689, but he continued to write and publish, and his verse translation of Virgil (1697) was hailed as a significant achievement.
A short and tentative list of books known or thought to have been owned by Dryden has been compiled by James Osborn (see below). He is known to have bought books at the 1682 sale of Richard Smith’s library, and is bound to have had a sizeable library, but only a small handful of his books can be traced today.
As noted by Osborn, the identification of so few of Dryden's books indicates that he generally did not inscribe or otherwise mark them.
- Birrell, T. John Dryden’s purchases at two book auctions, English Studies 42 (1961), 1-25.
- Birrell, T. A. Books and buyers in 17th-century English auction sales, in R. Myers et al (eds), Under the hammer, London, 2001, 51-64.
- Hammond, P. Dryden’s library, Notes and Queries 229 (1984), 344-5.
- Hammond, Paul. "Dryden, John (1631–1700), poet, playwright, and critic." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
- Osborn, J. M. John Dryden: some biographical facts and problems, rev edn, 1965, 241-50 ("Books from Dryden's library").
- John Dryden, Catalogue of English literary manuscripts 1450-1700.