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Writers and poets who were born or died in London between the 14th and 16th centuries

14-16th Century 17th Century 18th Century 19th Century 20th Century 21st Century

14th Century
The poet Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London in 1342/43. He wrote The Canterbury Tales seen as the first great poetic work in the English language. It tells of a group of pilgrims telling each other stories as they travel from an inn in Southwark to Thomas Becket's shrine in Canterbury Cathedral. Chaucer died in London in 1400 and is buried in the part of Westminster Abbey which since his burial is known as Poet's Corner.

Geoffrey Chaucer Geoffrey Chaucer
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey
British Library - William Caxton's Canterbury Tales



16th Century
The poet John Donne was born in London in 1572 and died there in 1631. He is buried in St Paul's Cathedral.

John Donne
Famous people buried at St Paul's Cathedral
Academy of American Poets: John Donne


No man is an Island, entire of it self;
every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were;
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind;
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624)



The poet
Ben Jonson was born in 1572 in Westminster. Although not an official post until John Dryden was appointed in 1668, Jonson became Poet Laureate in 1616. He was the first to hold a post which has continued up until the present day and held the position, as became customary, until his death in London in 1637. He was succeeded in 1638 by Sir William D'Avenant and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Ben Jonson
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey
Academy of American Poets: Ben Jonson


Blind Fortune still
Bestows her gifts on such as cannot use them.

Every Man out of his Humour (1600)

Where it concerns himself,
Who's angry at a slander makes it true.

Catiline his Conspiracy (1611)



The poet
Edmund Spenser, best known for The Faerie Queene died at King Street in Westminster in 1599. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Edmund Spenser Edmund Spenser
Famous people buried at Westminster Abbey



London Genealogy in England