John Donne was born in London to a catholic family at a time of religious persecution
but was educated by Jesuits and attended both Oxford and Cambridge Universities although
unable to graduate owing to religious exclusions. He subsequently attended law studies
but travelled extensively in Europe and attained military experience before becoming
Secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, Keeper of The Great Seal, in 1591. He married
Egerton's niece, Anne More, in 1601 against her family's wishes and was consigned
to meagre circumstances whilst practicing as a country lawyer.
He became a Member of Parliament in 1602 and subsequently, after relinquishing his
Catholicism for Protestantism and being ordained in the Church of England, made rapid
progress within the Church under the patronage of the Kings James and Charles.
He wrote numerous satirical and erotic poems later blended with religious overtones
as well as many sermons stimulated by the demands of his church career. His poetry
became more sombre with age, however, dealing largely with death and religion. He
belonged to the metaphysical school in his comparison of unlikely concepts although
he suffered critical scrutiny from his successors. He has, nonetheless, regained
favourable recognition over the last century.
He died, possibly of cancer, in London in 1631.