John Dryden (August 9, 1631 – May 1, 1700) was a playwright, poet, critic and translator whose career shaped the development of literature. Indeed, such was his influence during the Restoration period that it became known as 'The Age Of Dryden' within literary circles.
Although Dryden's career in the theatre got off to a shaky start (his debut play was poorly received), it went on to become his main source of income during the 1660s and 1670s. Among his Restoration comedies and tragedies are Marriage à la Mode (1672) and All for Love (1678).
Dryden experienced a certain level of dissatisfaction with his theatrical work however, and sought other outlets for his creativity. Branching into poetry, he produced the long historical work Annus Mirabilis in 1667. The poem, recounting the 1666 Great Fire of London and the English defeat of the Dutch naval fleet, was to have a major effect on Dryden's career. He was made poet laureate in the same year.
Another great achievement for Dryden was the translation of The Works of Virgil (1697) which, when published, was a national event.
Dryden died on May 1, 1700. He now lies in Westminster Abbey, where he was moved days after his death from St Anne's cemetery in Soho.
Dryden was the second cousin once removed of Jonathan Swift.