Matthew Prior 1664-1721

Matthew Prior was born in Westminster and educated at Westminster School and St. John's College, Cambridge.

He entered the diplomatic service in 1690 as secretary to the British ambassador at The Hague and was involved in negotiations for the Treaty of Ryswyk (1697) and later played a leading role in peace negotiations leading up to the Treaty of Utrecht (1713). After Queen Anne's death he briefly fell out of favour and spent some time in prison. In 1718 he published a highly successful folio edition of his poems.

His longer poems include Henry and Emma, Alma, or The Progress of the Mind, and he also wrote numerous lively comic pieces as well as a plethora of epigrams, ballads, odes, and epistles. In his final years he wrote Dialogues of the Dead, a series of imaginary conversations between famous men. He was a great admirer of Spenser and, following his death from cholera, was granted the request to be buried at his feet in Westminster Abbey.

Works include

The Question to Lisetta
To a Child of Quality
On My Birthday, July 21


The Lady who offers her Looking-Glass to Venus
A Letter
For my own Monument

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