Thomas Shadwell

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Thomas Shadwell
Thomas Shadwell from NPG.jpg
Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom
In office
9 March 1689 19 or 20 November 1692
Monarch William III and Mary II
Preceded by John Dryden
Succeeded by Nahum Tate
Personal details
Weeting or Lynford, Norfolk, England
Died(1692-11-19)19 November 1692
London, England
Alma mater Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
Occupationpoet, playwright
Awards poet laureate

Thomas Shadwell (c. 1642 – 19 November 1692) was an English poet and playwright who was appointed poet laureate in 1689.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Poet person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.

A playwright or dramatist is a person who writes plays.



Shadwell was born at either Bromehill Farm, Weeting-with-Broomhill or Santon House, Lynford, Norfolk, [1] and educated at Bury St Edmunds School, and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, which he entered in 1656. [2] He left the university without a degree, and joined the Middle Temple. At the Whig triumph in 1688, he superseded John Dryden as poet laureate and historiographer royal. He died at Chelsea on 19 November 1692. [3] He was buried in Chelsea Old Church, but his tomb was destroyed by wartime bombing; however a memorial to him survives in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Weeting-with-Broomhill village in the United Kingdom

Weeting-with-Broomhill is a civil parish in the English county of Norfolk. It covers an area of 25.16 km2 (9.71 sq mi) and had a population of 1,751 in 786 households at the 2001 census, the population increasing to 1,839 in 814 households at the 2011 Census. The area of the parish includes the village of Weeting. For the purposes of local government, it falls within the district of Breckland. The parish covers the area to the north of Brandon.

Lynford village in the United Kingdom

Lynford is a village and civil parish in the Breckland District of Norfolk. The parish covers an area of 24.72 km2 (9.54 sq mi), and the 2001 Census recorded a population of 157 in 81 households. Lynford lies 4 miles (6.4 km) north east of Brandon and between Mundford, 2 miles (3.2 km) to the north west, and Thetford, 6.5 miles (10.5 km) to the south east, on the A134. It lies deep within Breckland forestry land between the Stanford Battle Area and Thetford Forest.

Norfolk County of England

Norfolk is a county in East Anglia in England. It borders Lincolnshire to the northwest, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea and, to the north-west, The Wash. The county town is Norwich. With an area of 2,074 square miles (5,370 km2) and a population of 859,400, Norfolk is a largely rural county with a population density of 401 per square mile. Of the county's population, 40% live in four major built up areas: Norwich (213,000), Great Yarmouth (63,000), King's Lynn (46,000) and Thetford (25,000).


In 1668 he produced a prose comedy, The Sullen Lovers, or the Impertinents, based on Les Fâcheux by Molière, and written in open imitation of Ben Jonson's comedy of humours. His best plays are Epsom Wells (1672), for which Sir Charles Sedley wrote a prologue, and the Squire of Alsatia (1688). Alsatia was the cant name for the Whitefriars area of London, then a kind of sanctuary for persons liable to arrest, and the play represents, in dialogue full of the local argot, the adventures of a young heir who falls into the hands of the sharpers there. [4] [5]

Molière 17th-century French playwright and actor

Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright, actor and poet, widely regarded as one of the greatest writers in the French language and universal literature. His extant works include comedies, farces, tragicomedies, comédie-ballets and more. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed at the Comédie-Française more often than those of any other playwright today. His influence is such that the French language itself is often referred to as the "language of Molière".

Ben Jonson 16th/17th-century English playwright, poet, and actor

Benjamin Jonson was an English playwright, poet, actor, and literary critic, whose artistry exerted a lasting impact upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours. He is best known for the satirical plays Every Man in His Humour (1598), Volpone, or The Fox, The Alchemist (1610) and Bartholomew Fair (1614) and for his lyric and epigrammatic poetry; he is generally regarded as the second most important English playwright during the reign of James VI and I after William Shakespeare.


Alsatia was the name given to an area lying north of London's River Thames once privileged as a sanctuary. It spanned from the Whitefriars monastery to the south of the west end of Fleet Street and adjacent to the Temple. Between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries it was proofed against all but a writ of the Lord Chief Justice or of the Lords of the Privy Council, becoming a refuge for perpetrators of every grade of crime.

For fourteen years from the production of his first comedy to his memorable encounter with John Dryden, Shadwell produced a play nearly every year. These productions display a hatred of sham, and a rough but honest moral purpose. Although bawdy, they present a vivid picture of contemporary manners. [6]

John Dryden 17th-century English poet and playwright

John Dryden was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who was made England's first Poet Laureate in 1668.

Shadwell is chiefly remembered as the unfortunate Mac Flecknoe of Dryden's satire, the "last great prophet of tautology," and the literary son and heir of Richard Flecknoe:

Mac Flecknoe poem

Mac Flecknoe is a verse mock-heroic satire written by John Dryden. It is a direct attack on Thomas Shadwell, another prominent poet of the time. It opens with the lines:

Richard Flecknoe was an English dramatist, poet and musician. He is remembered for being made the butt of satires by Andrew Marvell in 1681 and by John Dryden in Mac Flecknoe in 1682.

"The rest to some faint meaning make pretense,
But Sh____ never deviates into sense."


Dryden had furnished Shadwell with a prologue to his True Widow (1679) and, in spite of momentary differences, the two had been on friendly terms. But when Dryden joined the court party, and produced Absalom and Achitophel and The Medal, Shadwell became the champion of the Protestants, and made a scurrilous attack on Dryden in The Medal of John Bayes: a Satire against Folly and Knavery (1682). Dryden immediately retorted in Mac Flecknoe, or a Satire on the True Blue Protestant Poet, T.S. (1682), in which Shadwell's personalities were returned with interest. A month later he contributed to Nahum Tate's continuation of Absalom and Achitophel satirical portraits of Elkanah Settle as Doeg and of Shadwell as Og. In 1687, Shadwell attempted to answer these attacks in a version of Juvenal's 10th Satire. [6]

<i>Absalom and Achitophel</i> poem

Absalom and Achitophel is a celebrated satirical poem by John Dryden, written in heroic couplets and first published in 1681. The poem tells the Biblical tale of the rebellion of Absalom against King David, but this tale is an allegory used to represent a story contemporary to Dryden, a story of King Charles II and the Exclusion Crisis (1679-1681). The poem also references the Popish Plot (1678) and the Monmouth Rebellion (1685).

Nahum Tate Anglo-Irish poet and playwright

Nahum Tate was an Irish poet, hymnist and lyricist, who became England's poet laureate in 1692. Tate is best known for The History of King Lear, his 1681 adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear.

Elkanah Settle was an English poet and playwright.

However, Dryden's portrait of Shadwell in Absalom and Achitophel cut far deeper, and has withstood the test of time. In this satire, Dryden noted of Settle and Shadwell:

Two fools that crutch their feeble sense on verse;
Who, by my muse, to all succeeding times
Shall live, in spite of their own doggrel rhymes;


Nonetheless, Shadwell, due to the Whig triumph in 1688, superseded his enemy as Poet Laureate and historiographer royal. [6]

His son, Charles Shadwell was also a playwright. A scene from his play, The Stockjobbers was included as an introduction in Caryl Churchill's Serious Money (1987). [3]


Dear Pretty Youth

Dear Pretty Youth

Dear pretty youth, unveil your eyes,
How can you sleep when I am by?
Were I with you all night to be,
Methinks I could from sleep be free.
Alas, my dear, you're cold as stone:
You must no longer lie alone.
But be with me my dear, and I in each arm
Will hug you close and keep you warm.

[ citation needed ]

Love in their little veins inspires

Love in their little veins inspires

Love in their little veins inspires
their cheerful notes, their soft desires.
While heat makes buds and blossoms spring,
those pretty couples love and sing.
But winter puts out their desire,
and half the year they want love's fire.


Nymphs and Shepherds

Nymphs and Shepherds

Nymphs and shepherds, come away.
In ye groves let's sport and play,
For this is Flora's holiday,
Sacred to ease and happy love,
To dancing, to music and to poetry;
Your flocks may now securely rove
Whilst you express your jollity.
Nymphs and shepherds, come away.



A complete edition of Shadwell's works was published by another son, Sir John Shadwell, in 1720. His other dramatic works are:

See also


  1. Clarke, WG (1937). In Breckland Wilds. Heffer & Sons Ltd, Cambridge; 2nd edition, p.142
  2. "Shadwell, Thomas (SHDL656T)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  3. 1 2 Thomas Shadwell Archived 28 November 2004 at the Wayback Machine .
  4. Shadwell Archived 9 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine .
  5. Thomas Shadwell biography Archived 28 November 2004 at the Wayback Machine .
  6. 1 2 3 "NNDB". NNDB. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  7. "MacFleck'noe". Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  8. "Satire". Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  9. "Love in their little veins inspires". 2014-06-16. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  10. "Nymphs and Shepherds". 2014-06-16. Retrieved 2018-06-19.

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Mock-heroic, mock-epic or heroi-comic works are typically satires or parodies that mock common Classical stereotypes of heroes and heroic literature. Typically, mock-heroic works either put a fool in the role of the hero or exaggerate the heroic qualities to such a point that they become absurd.

Rake (stock character)

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Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.

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Anthony Leigh was a celebrated English comic actor.


Court offices
Preceded by
John Dryden
British Poet Laureate
Succeeded by
Nahum Tate
Preceded by
John Dryden
English Historiographer Royal
Succeeded by
Thomas Rymer