This portrait of Andrew Marvell (1621–1678), painted by an unknown artist, dates from around 1655–60. It is the only recognised portrait of Marvell and as such all subsequent engravings and likenesses are based on it.
Politics and poetics
The late 1650s was a period that shaped Marvell both poetically and politically.
In 1657 he was appointed as John Milton’s (1608–1674) assistant in the role of Latin Secretary to the Protectorate, where he worked first-hand for the government while building a lasting friendship with Milton, the leading republican poet of the era.
Marvell was elected MP for Hull for the first time in 1659, a position that he occupied for the next 19 years and which put him on the frontline of political activity and debate. During his lifetime Marvell became known for his astute and satirical verse commentaries on the events and political climate of the 1670s. It was his fame as a polemicist that created a market for his lyric poems, which were published posthumously in 1681.
- Article by:
- Nigel Smith
- Politics and religion
Andrew Marvell was a poet, but he was also a politician and a civil servant at a time of tremendous upheaval. Nigel Smith investigates how Marvell and his writing negotiated the civil wars, Oliver Cromwell's government and the Restoration.