Biography and History

William Cowper was an English poet. Born in 1731 in Great Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, Cowper was schooled in Markyate and Winchester and trained for a career in law. However, he found himself ill-suited for the profession and instead was appointed a commissioner in bankruptcy. He suffered from severe mental instability and was institutionalized on several occasions. A true romantic, Cowper wrote much of his poetry in honor of the women in his life. Among his most famous compositions are The Task and The Journey of John Gilpin. Cowper died in 1800.

Joseph Hill was a close friend of Cowper who served as his mentor in matters of business.

Source: From the finding aid for C0135

Biography and History

William Cowper was an English poet. Born in 1731 in Great Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, Cowper was schooled in Markyate and Winchester and trained for a career in law. However, he found himself ill-suited for the profession and instead was appointed a commissioner in bankruptcy. He suffered from severe mental instability and was institutionalized on several occasions. A true romantic, Cowper wrote much of his poetry in honor of the women in his life. Among his most famous compositions are The Task and The Journey of John Gilpin. Cowper died in 1800.

Kenneth Povey (1898–1965) was a scholar who published widely on the subject of eighteenth-century poetry.

Source: From the finding aid for C0136

Biography and History

William Cowper, renowned poet, was born on November 26, 1731 in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. Although he originally pursued law as his career, Cowper became severely depressed and was forced to retire. Around the same time, Cowper converted to evangelicalism and took up residence with Reverend Morley Unwin in Huntingdon. Despite the early death of the reverend, Cowper stayed with his wife, Mary Unwin, until her death. Continually battling with depression, Cowper nonetheless achieved success as a poet, hymn-writer, letter-writer, and translator. The Olney Hymns, John Gilpin, The Task, and a translation of Homer are among Copwer’s most noted works. He passed away on April 25, 1800.

Source: From the finding aid for C0137