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William Davenant

Sir William Davenant (February, 1606 - April 7, 1668), also spelled D'Avenant, was an English poet and playwright.

Table of contents
1 Biography
2 Works
3 External Links


Sir William Davenant was born in late February, 1606 in Oxford, England, the son of Jane Shepherd Davenant and John Davenant, proprietor of the Crown Tavern (or Crown Inn) and mayor of Oxford. He was the godson of William Shakespeare, who had stayed frequently at the Crown. It was even rumored that he was the Bard's biological son as well. However, it seems that this rumor stemmed from a comment attributed to Davenant by Samuel Butler: "It seemed to him [Davenant] that he writ with the very same spirit that Shakespeare [did], and seemed content enough to be called his son."

Following the death of Ben Jonson in 1637, Davenant was named Poet Laureate of England in 1638. He was a supporter of King Charles I in the English Civil War. In 1641, he was declared guilty of high treason, only to be knighted two years later by the king following the battle at Gloucester. He was then appointed Emissary to France in 1645 and treasurer of the colony of Virginia in 1649 by Charles II. The following year, he was made lieutenant governor of Maryland, but was captured at sea, imprisoned, and sentenced to death. He spent all of 1651 in the Tower of London, where he was imprisoned at the time Gondibert was written. Having been released in 1652, he was only pardoned in 1654.

Davenant once again found himself in legal trouble in 1659, when he was imprisoned for his part in Sir George Booth's uprising at Cheshire. He was released the same year though and fled to France. He had returned to England sometime before the initial production of his adaptation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, written with John Dryden, who would be named the next Laureate in 1670.

After suffering from syphilis for nearly four decades, he passed away in London on April 7, 1668, shortly after his final play, The Man's the Master, was first performed. He is buried in the Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey where the inscription on his tablet reads "O rare Sir William Davenant." It has been noted that the original inscription on Ben Jonson's tablet, which was already removed by the time Davenant died, was "Rare Ben," which was the supposedly name Shakespeare had for Jonson.

Nine of his works, though they were previously licensed or produced in London during his life like all of his plays, were finally published in print posthumously. Several of these were included in The Works of Sr William D'avenant Kt, by Henry Herringman in 1673, which was copied from Davenant's own originals.


Epic Poems and Books of Poetry


Original Plays, Masques and Operas

Listed in chronological order by actual date of publication, not performance.

Revisions, Adaptations and Other Productions for the Stage

External Links

Links to Davenant's Works online