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2002 articles 1978 articles

Marvell after Cambridge

Pauline Burdon


MARVELL'S movements on first leaving Cambridge have never been known to his biographers. Exactly when he left Trinity College is also in doubt, but it is clear that by September 1641 he had been absent for an unacceptable length of time. If it is a fact that he ran away to London after being persuaded by Jesuits to do so, then this suggests that, apparently as early as 1639, he was becoming restive at the university. The tragedy of his father's drowning in the Humber in January 1640/1 seems to have removed a restraint, and the young Marvell no longer felt obliged to continue for his M.A. In the troubled years leading up to the Civil War (even a parliament was summoned after the space of more than half his lifetime) he must surely have become infected with the passions and unrest prevailing in the country. It is now possible to show where he was, describe some of the people he knew, and suggest what he might have been doing after leaving Cambridge, since three signatures of his have been discovered on documents dated 8, 10, and 21 February 1641/2.

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