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John Gower (1330 - 1408)

John Gower
Books by this author: Selected Poems
  • About
  • John Gower (c.1330 – October 1408) was an English poet, a contemporary of William Langland and a personal friend of Geoffrey Chaucer. His three major works (the Mirroir de l'Omme, Vox Clamantis, and Confessio Amantis), are three long poems written in French, Latin, and English respectively.

    Not much is known about Gower's early years. He was probably born to an affluent family from Kent, and may have been a landowner. He probably practised law in or around London. While in the capital, he grew close to the nobility of his day. He was apparently personally acquainted with Richard II: in the prologue of the first edition of the Confessio Amantis, he tells how a chance conversation with the king resulted in a commission for the work that would become the Confessio. Later in life his allegiance switched to the side of the future Henry IV, to whom later editions of the Confessio Amantis were dedicated.

    Gower's friendship with Chaucer is also well documented, and the two poets paid one another compliments in their verse: Chaucer dedicated his Troilus and Criseyde in part to 'moral Gower', and Gower reciprocated by placing a speech in praise of Chaucer in the mouth of Venus at the end of the Confessio Amantis.

    In his last years, and possibly as early as 1400, he became blind, and after his death in 1408, Gower was interred in a tomb in the Priory church (now Southwark Cathedral), which remains today.
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