Andrew Marvell has been a source of mystery for scholars due to the lack of personal information about his life (Academy of American Poets). However, there are some facts that remain. Andrew Marvell was born 1621 in the Yorkshire town of Hull, where his father was a lecturer at Holy Trinity Church and master of the Charterhouse (Academy of American Poets). At an amazing age of twelve, Marvell began to study at Trinity College in Cambridge (Academy of American Poets). At one point he attempted to convert to Roman Catholicism, but his father seems to have intervened and prevented him from actualizing that (Greenblatt 1789). Ultimately, he would stay in college until his father drowned in the Humber, mentioned in his famous poem “To His Coy Mistress,” in 1641 (The Poetry Foundation). This seemed to mark a new chapter in Marvell’s life, because it was at this point in the 1640’s that he traveled to France, Italy, Holland, and Spain (Greenblatt 1789). All in all, this movement abroad meant that he avoided being involved in the English Civil War (Academy of American Poets).
Marvell’s political affiliations, however, were made clear through several poems which he wrote in praise and support of Oliver Cromwell, who served as Lord Protector of England, Scotland, and Ireland after the English Civil War (“Andrew Marvell,” Wikipedia). He established a reputation as a political writer early on, and his writing supported the rights of Parliament and religious as well as political liberties (The Poetry Foundation). He served alongside John Milton as Latin secretary to Cromwell’s Council of State, and after Cromwell’s death in 1658 was elected Member of Parliament for Kingston-upon-Hull in the Third Protectorate Parliament. (“Andrew Marvell,” Wikipedia). It was not until long after his death, in the 19th century, that his lyric poetry began to attract much attention (The Poetry Foundation).
Marvell was named by Colin Burrow in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography one of the “central figures” of metaphysical poetry, a style characterized by metaphysical conceits along with simple verse forms (“Metaphysical Poetry,” Wikipedia).
Academy of American Poets. Andrew Marvell. http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/304
Andrew Marvell. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Marvell
Greenblatt, Stephen, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Ninth Edition. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. Print.
Metaphysical Poetry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphysical_poetry#cite_note-ODNB-4
The Poetry Foundation. “Andrew Marvell.” http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/andrew-marvell