As a successful military adventurer and explorer, author and poet, Ralegh was a significant figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth I. He took expeditions to the New World, searching for El Dorado, and was an early colonizer, while also launching official and unofficial attacks against the Spanish.

By 1585, he had been knighted and was the recipient of many gifts of extensive lands and lucrative trading licences. However, in 1592, Ralegh fell from favour when he secretly married one of Elizabeth’s maids of honour and the queen had him imprisoned briefly in the Tower of London.

When Elizabeth died, James I had Ralegh imprisoned once more, in an attempt to appease the Spanish, and on this occasion he remained in captivity for nine years, before being released to lead another expedition, to Guiana in search of gold. The expedition failed, Ralegh attacked a Spanish settlement against the king’s wishes and, on his return in 1618, he was executed.

Poems by Walter Raleigh

The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd - Walter Raleigh - Read by Andrew Motion


Read by Alice Oswald
Walsingham - Walter Raleigh - Read by Alice Oswald

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