John Dryden was England\'s most outstanding and controversial writer for the
later part of the seventeenth century, dominating the literary world as a
skilled and versatile dramatist, a pioneer of literary criticism, and a
respected writer of the Restoration period. With Dryden\'s great literary and
critical influence on the English society during the Restoration period he has
made a name for himself, which will be studied and honored for years to come.

John Dryden was born in Northamptonshire, in 1631. His parents were Erasmus

Dryden and Mary Pickery. They were both from wealthy and respected families in

Northamptonshire. The Drydens were known for wisdom and great tradition all over

England and were well-equipped with large estates and vast lands (Ward 5).

Dryden\'s father, Erasmus, was a justice of the peace during the usurpation, and
was the father of fourteen children; four sons, and ten daughters. The sons were

John, Erasmus, Henry, and James; the daughters were Agness, Rose, Lucy, Mary,

Martha, Elizabeth, Hester, Hannah, Abigail, and France (Kinsley 34). Dryden was
also a religious man. He had as much faith in the Lord as he did in his pen. He
belonged to the Church of England all his life until converting to Catholicism
due to the change of the throne. He was baptized at All Saints Church in

Aldwinule, Northamptonshire ten days after his birth (Hopkins 75). Dryden,
growing into a young man, began his education in his hometown. There he took the
basic classes. He furthered his education at Westminister School in London.

Here, he attended school for about twelve hours a day, beginning and ending at
six. At Westminister he studied history, geography, and study of the Scripture,
plus all the basics. After Westminister he Cunningham 2 attended Cambridge

University (Hopkins 14). While attending Cambridge University, he excelled to
the top of his class and was a standout student. John Dryden was the greatest
and most represented English man of letters of the last quarter of the
seventeenth century. From the death of Milton in 1674 to his own in 1700, no
other writer can compare with him in versatility and power (Sherwood 39). He was
in fact a versatile writer, with his literary works consisted of tragedy,
comedy, heroic play, opera, poetry, and satire. Although he did write most of
his important original poems to serve some passing political purpose, he made
them immortal by his literary genius (Miner 3). John Dryden was the type of man
who was always busy with some great project. He would never put full time and
concentration into his work. He would quickly finish a project, careless of
perfection, and hurry off to begin another, which was not a tempting deal on
either the author\'s side nor the reader\'s side because Dryden lived in a time
where there were few well-printed works (Hopkins 1). So much of his work
consisted of numerous errors, misprints, and lost pages. Several critics have
attempted to revise and correct his work but usually for the worse ( Harth 3).

Despite his popularity during the Restoration and even today, little is known
about John Dryden except what is in his works. Because he wrote from the
beginning through the end of the Restoration period, many literary scholars
consider the end of the Restoration period to have occurred with Dryden\'s death
in 1700 (Miner 2). Surviving Dryden was his wife Lady Elizabeth and there were
three sons, to whom he had always been a loving and careful father. John, his
oldest son, followed his father in death only three years later in April of

1700. His wife, the "Widow of a poet," died shortly after his death in
the summer of 1714 at the age of 78 (Bredvold 314). Dryden certainly attained
his goal of popularity especially after his death. He became this Cunningham 3
through his "achievements in verse translations, the first English author
to depend for a livelihood directly on the reading public and opening the future
of profitable careers for great novelists during the next two centuries"
(Frost 17). The Restoration period was a time of great literature and
outstanding writers, but, with all the talent in this century, there were also
many problems. The Restoration was an angry time in literary history. Writers
threw harsh blows at one another, not with fists but with paper and ink. It was
an age of plots, oaths, vows and tests: they were woven into the "fabric of
everyday life, and hardly a person in England escaped being touched by
them" (Hammond 131). During this time he wrote about what was going on