Andrew Marvell was born at Winestead-in-Holderness, Yorkshire, on March 31, 1621 to the Rev. Andrew Marvell, and his wife Anne. When Marvell was but three years of age, the family moved to Hull, where Rev. Marvell became lecturer in Holy Trinity Church. He was educated at the Hull Grammar School, and in 1633 he matriculated as a Sizar of Trinity College, Cambridge. Two poems by Marvell, one in Greek, one in Latin, were printed in the Musa Cantabrigiensis in 1637. In 1638 Marvell was admitted a Scholar of Trinity College, and took his B.A. degree in the same year. A few days after receiving his scholarship, Marvell's mother died. He remained a few more years in residence, leaving Cambridge only after his father's death, by drowning, in 1640.|
It is uncertain what Marvell did in the years that followed. It is possible that he held a clerkship in his brother-in-law Edmund Popple's tradinghouse from
1640-1642. He travelled abroad in France, Holland, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy from 1642-46. In 1650, Marvell became the tutor of twelve-year-old Mary Fairfax (later Duchess of Buckingham), daughter of Sir Thomas Fairfax, retired Lord General of the parliamentary forces. At the Yorkshire seat of the Fairfax family, Nun Appleton House, Marvell seems to have written, over a period of about three years, most of his non-satiric English
poems. The sojourn provided material for Marvell's most profound poem, "Upon Appleton House," a poem crucial to his development both as man and as poet. Here he examines the competing claims of public service and the search for personal insight. To the same period probably belong Marvell's "To his Coy Mistress" and "The Definition of Love."
Marvell had befriended John Milton by 1653, when Milton wrote a glowing recommendation for Marvell for the post of Assistant Latin Secretary to the Council of State, a post he eventually secured in 1657. Marvell, who had been a supporter of the King, under the Commonwealth, became an adherent of Cromwell. In the summer of 1657, Marvell tutored Cromwell's nephew and ward, William Dutton, living at Eton.
In September, 1657, Marvell was appointed assistant to
John Milton, Latin Secretary for the Commonwealth. Marvell was paid a salary of £200, the same as Milton, although his was not a life pension. In his quiet way he seems to have been helpful after the
in saving Milton from an extended jail term and possible execution. Starting in 1659, Marvell was elected M. P. for his hometown of Hull, and he continued to represent it until his death During his last twenty years of life, Marvell was engaged in political activities, taking part in embassies to Holland and Russia and writing political pamphlets and satires. Marvell's Miscellaneous Poems were printed posthumously in 1681. Marvell died on 16 August, 1678 of tertian ague, and the malpractice of the attending physician. He was buried in the church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields.
"The life and work of Andrew Marvell are both marked by extraordinary variety and range. Gifted with a most subtle and introspective imagination, he turned his talents in mid-career from incomparable lyric explorations of the inner life to panegyric and satiric poems on the men and issues involved in one of England's most crucial political epochs. The century which followed Marvell's death remembered him almost exclusively as a politician and pamphleteer. Succeeding periods, on the other hand, have all but lost the public figure in the haunting recesses of his lyric poems."1
- Berthoff, A.E. The Resolved Soul: A Study of Marvell's Major Poems. (1970)
- Brett, R.L., Ed. Andrew Marvell: Essays on the Tercentenary of his Death. (1979)
- Colie, Rosalie L. "My ecchoing song", Andrew Marvell's Poetry of Criticism. (1971)
- Craze, Michael. The Life and Lyrics of Andrew Marvell. (1979)
- Donno, Elizabeth Story, Ed. Andrew Marvell, The Critical Heritage. (1978)
- Donno, Elizabeth Story, Ed. Andrew Marvell Complete Poems. (1977)
- Friedenreich, K., Ed. Tercentenary Essays in Honor of Andrew Marvell. (1977)
- Friedman, Donald M. Marvell's Pastoral Art. (1970)
- Griffin, Patsy. The Modest Ambition of Andrew Marvell : A Study of Marvell and His
Relation to Lovelace, Fairfax, Cromwell, and Milton. (1995)
- Legouis, Pierre. Andrew Marvell, Poet, Puritan, Patriot (1965)
- Margoliouth, H.M., Ed. The Poems and Letters of Andrew Marvell. 2 vols. (1927; 1952)
- Murray, Nicholas. World Enough and Time : The Life of Andrew Marvell. (2000)
- Patterson, Annabel M. Marvell and the Civic Crown. (1978)
- Patterson, Annabel M. Marvell : The Writer in Public Life. (1999)
- Patrides, C.A., Ed. Approaches to Marvell: The York Tercentenary Lectures. (1978)
- Ray, Robert H. An Andrew Marvell Companion. (1998)
- Sackville-West, V. Andrew Marvell. (1929, repr. 1971)
- Stocker, M. Apocalyptic Marvell: The Second Coming in Seventeenth Century English Poetry. (1986)
- Toliver, Harold E. Marvell's Ironic Vision. (1965)
- Wallace, John M. Destiny His Choice: The Loyalism of Andrew Marvell. (1968)
- Wheeler, Thomas. Andrew Marvell Revisited. (1996)
1 Lord, George deF. "Introduction." Complete Poetry.
London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1984. ix.
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