Sir John Denham (1615-69) courtier, politician, diplomat and wit, was a highly regarded poet in his own time and for well over a century after his death. Towards the end of his life, in 1664, John Dryden praised the “majesty of the style” of Denham’s best-known poem,

Cooper’s Hill

, saying that it “ever will be the exact standard of good writing”. Half a century later, in 1713, Alexander Pope echoed Dryden’s praise, referring in


to “majestic Denham”, and proclaiming that: “On Cooper’s Hill eternal Wreaths shall grow,/ While lasts the Mountain, or while Thames shall flow” (265-6). Towards the end of the eighteenth century, in his

Life of Denham

, 1779, Samuel Johnson described the poet as “a genius born to improve the literature of his country”.…

3065 words

Citation: Gordon, Ian. "Sir John Denham". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 13 June 2007 [, accessed 21 May 2024.]

1227 Sir John Denham 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.