John Donne Fact Sheet: Who was John
Donne? The following short biography and
fact sheet provides interesting facts about
the life, times and history of John Donne,
the famous English poet.
John Donne Fact File:
Lifespan: 1572 – 1631 *** Full Name:
John Donne *** Date of Birth (Birthday): He
was born on January 22, 1572 *** Place of
Birth: John Donne was born in London,
England *** Family background: His father
was also called John Donne *** Early life
and childhood: John Donne grew up and spent
the majority of his life in London ***
Education: John Donne began his education at
home *** John Donne died on March 31, 1631.
John Donne Fact 1: John Donne
was born on January 22, 1572 in London,
John Donne Fact 2: He was a
famous English poet whose poems were strong
and meaningful. He became the pre-eminent
representative of the metaphysical poets.
John Donne Fact 3: He shared
the same name as his father who was also
called John Donne. He was born into a Roman
Catholic family and he had five siblings of
which he was the third eldest. His father
was a warden of the Ironmongers Company in
London. His mother was called Elizabeth
John Donne Fact 4: The Roman
Catholic religion was illegal in England
when he was born. His father was a well
respected man, a practicing Roman Catholic
who feared persecution. He died when John
Donne was only four years of age.
John Donne Fact 5:
Following the death of his father in
1576, he was raised, along with his brothers
and sisters, by their mother Elizabeth
Heywood who was also a Roman Catholic.
John Donne Fact 6: At a young
age, he was taught privately. He joined Hart
Hall in Oxford at the age of 11, in 1583,
where he studied for three years.
John Donne Fact 7: He
attended Cambridge University for three
years, however, he didn't leave with a
degree as he wouldn't agree to sign the Oath
of Supremacy as he was a Roman Catholic. He
began attending Thavies Inn legal school in
1591, a year later, he was admitted to one
of the Inns of Court, Lincoln's Inn.
John Donne Fact 8: He
received a considerable inheritance which
afforded him a great social life and
opportunities to travel across Europe.
John Donne Fact 9: Between
1596-1597, during his time in Europe, he
battled with Sir Walter Raleigh and the Earl
of Essex against the Spanish at Cadiz and
John Donne Fact 10: When he
returned from his travels, he became Sir
Thomas Egerton's chief secretary. He was the
Lord Keeper of the Great Seal (an officer of
the English Crown). He was based at Thomas
Egerton's home in London.
John Donne Fact 11: He
married Anne Moore in secret in 1601. She
was the niece of Thomas Egerton. He was
dismissed from his job when Thomas Egerton
found out about the marriage. He was sent to
prison, along with Samuel Brooke, the
minster who had married them, and the man
who had witnessed their marriage. The
wedding was proved valid and Brooke was
released. The other men were released from
prison shortly afterwards. The relationship
with his father-in-law, Thomas Egerton, was
not reconciled until 1609.
John Donne Fact 12: After he
was released from prison, he lived in a
small house with his wife, Anne, in Pyrford,
Surrey. The house was owned by Sir Francis
Wooly who was a cousin of Anne. The couple
stayed there until 1604.
John Donne Fact 13: They
moved to Mitcham, London where John Donne
worked as a lawyer. He didn't earn a great
salary and found it a great struggle to pay
for the upkeep of his family. They lived
very much in poverty during these years.
John Donne Fact 14: John
Donne and his wife Anne were married for 16
years. During this time, they had twelve
children. Two of the children were
stillbirths and sadly, the couple couldn't
afford their burial expenses. The surviving
children were called Constance, John,
George, Francis, Lucy, Bridget, Mary,
Nicholas, Margaret, and Elizabeth.
John Donne Fact 15: His wife, Anne Donne, died 5 days
following the birth of a stillborn baby, the
couple's 12th child. He was deeply saddened
and grief stricken by his wife's death. He
wrote of his feelings in a sonnet called the
17th Holy Sonnet: 'Since she whom I loved
hath paid her last debt. To Nature, and to
hers, and my good is dead'.
John Donne Fact 16: He served
twice as a member of parliament, the first
time in 1601 and the second time in 1614.
The position was unpaid.
John Donne Fact 17: He was
ordained into the Church of England in 1615
following King James I's wish to take holy
orders. He became a Royal Chaplain in 1615.
The following year, he became a Reader of
Divinity at Lincoln's Inn, he served as
minister in the chapel for approximately
John Donne Fact 18: He wrote
outstanding poetry with a profound and
sensual style. He wrote various types of
poetry including love poems, sonnets,
mournful poems and elegies, poems about
religion and relationships. His also wrote
sermons and songs. He used irony, rhythms
and extended metaphors in his writing.
John Donne Fact 19: Some of
the most well known poems by John Donne
include Death Be Not Proud, For Whom The
Bell Tolls, Air and Angels, Good Morrow and
No Man Is An Island.
John Donne Fact 20: He died
on March 31, 1631 in London, England at 59
years of age. The cause of death is thought
to have been stomach cancer. He was buried
in Saint Paul's Cathedral. A memorial statue
in honour of his death can be seen on show
in the present day building in London.
Influence & Legacy: John
Donne was a famous English poet who wrote
sensual, profound poetry about love,
relationships, religion and other deep
subjects. His creative writing style often
included the use of irony and extended
metaphors. He wrote many poems during his
lifetime as well as songs and sermons which
Short Facts about John Donne for Kids
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