Abraham Cowley

(3476 words)
  • Robert Cummings (University of Glasgow)

Abraham Cowley was born in 1618, the seventh and posthumous child of Thomas Cooley, a London stationer (or a grocer, as Cowley's early biographers speculated). He died in 1667, aged forty-nine, and was buried in Westminster Abbey alongside Chaucer and Spenser. According to the inscription on his memorial urn, he was a reincarnated Pindar, Horace, and Virgil. Thomas Sprat, his earliest editor and his most earnest biographer, promotes him as a new type of the English poet, a bourgeois intellectual, the pattern of whose life could be a model for his generation. Cowley apparently succeeded where Ben Jonson failed, and had turned himself into a plausible modern man of letters. He was self-consciously an enlightened seventeenth-century man, a …

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Citation:
Cummings, Robert. "Abraham Cowley". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 November 2001
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=1045, accessed 30 October 2014.]