John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester

Poet, Author

1647 – 1680

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Who was John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester?

John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, was an English poet and courtier of King Charles II's Restoration court. The Restoration reacted against the "spiritual authoritarianism" of the Puritan era. Rochester was the embodiment of the new era, and he is as well known for his rakish lifestyle as his poetry, although the two were often interlinked. In 1669 he committed treason by boxing the ears of Thomas Killigrew in sight of the monarch, and in 1673 he accidentally delivered an insulting diatribe to the King. A. C. Grayling wrote, "It is quite something to live in an age of riotous immorality, and yet to be accounted the most dissolute individual of the time." He died at the age of 33 from venereal disease.

Rochester's contemporary Andrew Marvell described him as "the best English satirist", and he is generally considered to be the most considerable poet and the most learned among the Restoration wits. His poetry, much of it censored during the Victorian era, began a revival from the 1920s onwards, with notable champions including Graham Greene and Ezra Pound. The critic Vivian de Sola Pinto linked Rochester's libertinism to Hobbesian materialism. During his lifetime, he was best known for A Satyr Against Reason and Mankind, and it remains among his best known works today.

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Born
Apr 1, 1647
Oxfordshire
Parents
Spouses
Religion
  • Atheism
Nationality
  • England
Profession
Education
  • Wadham College, Oxford
  • University of Oxford
Lived in
  • Ditchley
    (1647 - 1653)
  • Ditchley
    (1656 - )
  • Paris
    (1653 - 1654)
Died
Jul 26, 1680
Woodstock
Resting place
Spelsbury

Submitted
on July 23, 2013

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