Skip to Main Content

British Literature: Renaissance 1485-1660

A guide for ENG 240 Foundations of British Literature.

Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618)

Raleigh  was an English aristocrat, writer, poet, soldier, courtier, spy, and explorer. He is also well known for popularising tobacco in England.A minor poem of Raleigh's captures the atmosphere of the court at the time of Queen Elizabeth I. His response to Christopher Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" was "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd".  ~ from Wikipedia

John Donne (1572 -1631)

Donne was an English poet, satirist, lawyer and Protestant priest. He is considered the pre-eminent representative of the metaphysical poets. His works are noted for their strong, sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, epigrams, elegies, songs, satires and sermons. His poetry is noted for its vibrancy of language and inventiveness of metaphor, especially compared to that of his contemporaries. Donne's style is characterised by abrupt openings and various paradoxes, ironies and dislocations.  ~ from Wikipedia

Edmund Spenser (1552 - 1599)

Spenser was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognised as one of the premier craftsmen of Modern English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the English language. Amoretti was a sonnet cycle written by Edmund Spenser that describes his courtship and eventual marriage to Elizabeth Boyle. It was first published in 1595 in London by William Ponsonby. It was printed as part of a volume entitled “Amoretti and Epithalamion. Written not long since by Edmunde Spenser.” The volume included the sequence of 89 sonnets, along with a series of short poems called Anacreontics and an Epithalamion, a public poetic celebration of marriage. “The volume memorializes Spenser’s courtship of Elizabeth Boyle, a young, well-born Anglo Irish woman, and the couple’s wedding on June 11, 1594." In the sonnets of Amoretti Spenser succeeds in "immortalizing the name of his bride to be ... by devices of word play." ~ from Wikipedia


Library Materials

Subject Headings

  • English literature -- Early modern, 1500-1700 -- Criticism, Textual.
  • English literature -- Early modern, 1500-1700 -- History and criticism.
  • Poets, English -- Early modern, 1500-1700.
  • Christian poetry, English -- Early modern, 1500-1700 -- History and criticism.
  • Jonson, Ben, 1573?-1637 (or any author) -- Criticism and interpretation.

Andrew Marvell (1621 - 1678)

Mavell was an English metaphysical poet and politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1659 and 1678. As a metaphysical poet, he is associated with John Donne and George Herbert. He was a colleague and friend of John Milton. His poems include To His Coy Mistress, The Garden, An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland, The Mower's Song and the country house poem Upon Appleton House. TO His Coy Mistress is considered one of Marvell's finest and quite possibly the best recognized carpe diem poem in English. It is also part of English Literary Heritage. Although the date of its composition is not known, it may have been written in the early 1650s. At that time, Marvell was serving as a tutor to the daughter of the retired commander of Oliver Cromwell’s army, Sir Thomas Fairfax.