The Literary Salon

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Poet Laureate factoid

Those of us who have read Dryden's MacFlecknoe know that T.S. refers to Thomas Shadwell, a poet who, like so many of his other contemporaries, has gone extinct (Cowley and even Samuel Butler of Hudibras, big names even in Johnson's day, have shared a similar fate). I remember first reading MacFlecknoe about three or four years ago, and I found something interesting that my professor at the time, a man of no mean erudition or humour, did not know: We know that Dryden became the first poet laureate, one of only about three or four who were major authors (the others were Wordsworth, Tennyson, and someone else I cannot recall). But did you know this: the poet laureate after John Dryden was...Thomas Shadwell! Perhaps this explains Dryden's contempt for this "poetaster." I will have to check the dates.

1 Comments:

Blogger Dr J said...

There's a reason Shadwell was appointed, mainly as a repudiation of Dryden. Dryden's conversion to Catholicism put him on the outs with the Whigs and William of Orange, who asceneded to throne the year after Shadwell's appointment. Politics and poetry-- whoda thunk it?

9:53 AM  

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