John Donne, Presbyter and Poet, 1631

For All the Saints

One of the greatest of English poets, and the best known preacher of his day in the Church of England, John Donne (pronounced, “dun”) was born into a wealthy and pious Roman Catholic family around 1572. (His mother was the granddaughter of a sister of Sir Thomas More.) He entered Hart Hall, Oxford in 1584 and possibly studied after this at Cambridge or abroad. He studied law at the Inns of Court in London, entering Thavies Inn in 1591 and transferring to Lincoln’s Inn in 1592. During this time he was exercised over the problem of his religious allegiance (as a Catholic recusant in a country with a established reformed Church), and according to the biographer Izaak Walton, “betrothed himself to no Religion that might give him any other denomination than a Christian“. By 1598 he had conformed to the Church of England. In 1598 he entered into government…

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