Excerpted from Andromeda Classic Library with some corrections
Richard Crashaw was the only son of William Crashaw, a puritan
preacher in London who had officiated at the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots. In defiance of his father's
views on religion, Crashaw went to a High Church college at
Cambridge, Pembroke. He
later became a fellow of Peterhouse College but was forced
to resign because of his Roman Catholic leanings.
England was a
dangerous place for Catholic sympathisers like Crashaw, and in 1644 he fled to France. He became a
Catholic sometime around 1645. His friend Abraham Cowley found him
living in poverty in Paris, and introduced him to Charles I's queen, Henrietta Maria. She sent Crashaw to Rome with a
recommendation to the Pope. On his arrival in Italy however, Crashaw was simply allotted a position
in a cardinal's household. Four months before he died, he was made a sub-canon of the Cathedral of
Santa Casa in Loretto.
Crashaw was much influenced by the Italian poet
Marino, as well as his reading
of the Italian and Spanish mystics. Though his verse is somewhat uneven in quality, at its best it
is characterised by brilliant use of extravagant baroque imagery.
Classic Library, ©1994 Andromeda Interactive Ltd.
Crashaw | Life | Works | Links | Essays | Books | 17th C. Eng. Lit.
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