The life of poet Andrew Marvell (1621-78) has often seemed puzzling and enigmatic. In this biography, he emerges as an important figure in the political as well as the poetic life of his time. Marvell lived through one of the most turbulent periods in English history and, after the Civil War and the Commonwealth, he became a Member of Parliament at the Restoration, serving the town of Hull until his death nearly two decades later. These political events enter his poems, sometimes directly, as in the famous Horatian Ode on Oliver Cromwell, sometimes indirectly as in his deceptively formal pastoral and lyric verse. This biography attempts to present an integrated portrait of Marvell the poet and the politician, and to show that for Marvell, poetry and politics were not opposed activities. Drawing on recent advances in knowledge about the poet, this life of Andrew Marvell explores his complex and elusive personality.
Nicholas Murray was born in Liverpool in 1952. He has written acclaimed biographies of the writer Bruce Chatwin and Victorian poet Matthew Arnold. He is married and lives in the Welsh Marches.