John Dryden was one of the dominant literary figures of the English Restoration period. He began his prolific and versatile writing career in the Puritan era before Charles II became king, and wrote verses on the death of Oliver Cromwell. However, he was quick to produce work that celebrated the return of Charles.

The Restoration of the English monarchy allowed the theatres to reopen, and Dryden produced several works for the stage during this time. His most fruitful period of dramatic writing was the 1670s and it culminated in his most successful play, All for Love, which was based on the story of Antony and Cleopatra.

In addition to writing for the theatre, Dryden was an essayist, translator, critic, sharp satirist and poet. His long poem Annus Mirabilis, commemorating 1667, the year of wonders,  with its naval battles and the Great Fire of London, led to him becoming Poet Laureate in 1668.

Recording commissioned by the Poetry Archive, reproduced here with kind permission of the reader.

Poems by John Dryden

A Song For St Cecilia’s Day

Read by Glyn Maxwell
A Song For St Cecilia’s Day - John Dryden - Read by Glyn Maxwell

Books by John Dryden



Poet Laureate

Prize website