40 Interesting Facts about John Donne That Everybody should know

40 Important Facts That Everbody should know about John Donne
John Done Quick Facts


Nationality – English
Lifespan –  22 January,1572 – 31 March, 1631

Place of Birth – Bread Street, London, U.K.

Father – John Donne

Mother – Elizabeth Heywood

Education – No Early Schooling, Oxford and Cambridge
Career – Poet, essayist, attorney, courtier and minister

Style of Composition- Metaphysical


Interesting Facts about John Donne

  • Donne was a chief exponent of Metaphysical School of poetry.
  • By religion Donne was a Roman Catholic.
  • The Roman Catholic religion was illegal in England at that time.
  • Interestingly, John Donne shared exactly the similar name as his father.
  • His father John Donne was a rich ironmonger and a well-respected person.
  • His mother Elizabeth Heywood was the daughter of John Heywood, a famous playwright and a grand-daughter of Thomas More, the author of Utopia
  • John had five siblings of which he was the third eldest.
  • His father died when John was only four.
  • His mother remarried a physician who took much care of his education.
  • He was educated at home till he was 11.
  • After that he was admitted to Hart Hall, Oxford and then to Cambridge for a short period.
  • Strangely he returned home from both universities without taking a degree as it required the swearing of the oath of allegiance to the Protestant queen which his religion forbade.
  • He began attending Thavies Inn legal school in 1591, a year later, he was admitted to one of the Inns of Court, Lincoln’s Inn as a law student.
  • It was probably in 1595-96 that he went abroad, visiting Spain and Italy.
  • Later he joined the expeditions of Essex to Cadiz in 1596 and the Azores in 1597.
  • In 1598 he renounced the Roman Catholicism.
  • He became Sir Thomas Egerton’s chief secretary. He was the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal (an officer of the English Crown). He was based at Thomas Egerton’s home in London.
  • He married Anne Moore, the niece of Thomas Egerton in secret in 1601.
  • He was dismissed from job and put into jail.
  • The wedding was proved valid and John was released.
  • Walton tells us that when Donne wrote to his wife to tell her about losing his post, he wrote after his name: John Donne, Anne Donne, (Un-done)
  • It was not until 1609 that Donne was reconciled with his father-in-law and received his wife’s dowry.
  • After he was released from prison, John Donne lived in a small house with his wife, Anne, in Pyrford, Surrey. The house was owned by Sir Francis Wooly who was a cousin of Anne. The couple stayed there until 1604.
  • They moved to Mitcham, London where John Donne worked as a lawyer. He didn’t earn a great salary and found it a great struggle to pay for the upkeep of his family. They lived very much in poverty during these years.
  • John Donne and his wife Anne were married for 16 years. During this time, they had twelve children.
  • Two of the children were stillbirths and sadly, the couple couldn’t afford their burial expenses.
  • The surviving children were called Constance, John, George, Francis, Lucy, Bridget, Mary, Nicholas, Margaret, and Elizabeth.
  • His wife, Anne Donne, died 5 days following the birth of a stillborn baby, the couple’s 12th child on 15 th August, 1617.
  • He was deeply saddened and grief stricken by his wife’s death. He ‘became crucified to the world’ as he said. He wrote of his feelings in a sonnet called the 17th Holy Sonnet: ‘Since she whom I loved hath paid her last debt. To Nature, and to hers, and my good is dead’.
  • John Donne served twice as a member of parliament, the first time in 1601 and the second time in 1614. The position was unpaid.
  • He was ordained into the Church of England in 1615 following King James I’s wish to take holy orders.
  • He was ordained into the Church of England in 1615 following King James I’s wish to take holy orders.
  • The following year, he became a Reader of Divinity at Lincoln’s Inn, he served as minister in the chapel for approximately four years.
  • Very little of Donne’s verse appeared in print during his lifetime.
  • His poetry is generally divided into two types- love lyrics and religious verse.
  • Most of his poems for which he is best known belong to the pre-marriage days, contained in Songs and Sonnets.
  • His well-known poems are: “The Good Morrow”, “The Canonization”, “Go and Catch a Falling Star”, “A Valediction Forbidding Mourning”, “Death be Not Proud”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, “Sunne Rising” etc.
  • There appeared his Collected Poemsafter his death.
  • He died on March 31, 1631 in London, England at 59 years of age. The cause of death is thought to have been stomach cancer.
  • He was buried in Saint Paul’s Cathedral. A memorial statue in honor of his death can be seen on show in the present day building in London.


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