2007 Archive Edition - See the Archive Notice on the Project Homepage for more information.
A moralistic poet whose reputation was once equal to that of Chaucer, John Gower was born c. 1330. The language of his works suggests that he was from Kent, but written records exist only for a Gower family in Yorkshire. He seems to have been a member of the upper middle class and to have associated with the members of the courts of Richard II and Henry IV of England. His friendship with Chaucer dates from the mid-1370's and is thought to have suffered disruption in the early 1390's, as evidenced by an edition of Confessio amantis that omits the verses in praise of Chaucer published in earlier editions. Gower lived late in life as a layman at the priory of St. Mary Overie in Southwark and may have established a scriptorium there to produce his works. He married Agnes Groundolf in 1397. She is thought to have been his nurse and his second wife. She outlived him. He went blind c. 1400 and died in 1408. His effigy in Southwark Cathedral depicts Gower, his head resting on his three important works (Vox clamantis, Speculum meditantis, and Confessio amantis) and his neck encircled in a collar of pendant swans, which Henry IV had given him in 1393.
Karen Rae Keck
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