John Donne was born into a Catholic family in 1572. After a conventional education at Hart Hall, Oxford and Lincoln's Inn, he took part in the Earl of Essex's expedition to the Azores in 1597. He secretly married Anne More in December 1601 and was imprisoned by her father, Sir George, in the Fleet two months later. He was ordained priest in January 1615 and took a Doctorate of Divinity at Cambridge the same year. He was made Dean of St Paul's in London in 1621, a position he held until his death in 1631. He is famous for the sermons he preached in his later years, as well as for his poems.
A.J. Smith was Professor Emeritus of the University of Southampton. His book include Literary Love (1983) and Metaphysical Wit (1992). He died in Salisbury in 1991.