William Cowper was a poet and hymn-writer from England. People think of him as one of the most famous poets. He made a big difference in 18th-century English poetry by writing about everyday life and the English countryside. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge have said that he was the first Romantic poet. ‘The Task: A Poem, in Six Books,’ a poem written in blank verse and is now thought to be his best work ever, is written in six books. His adaptations and translations of Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” into blank verse were the most essential English versions of these epic poems since Alexander Pope’s. Cowper went crazy for long periods of time and was sent to private asylums many times because of it. Mary Unwin, his roommate, and a friend took care of him when he was having trouble. He found safety in evangelical Christianity, which later gave him ideas for his well-known hymns. The phrase “God moves in a mysterious way” came from his poem “Light Shining Out of Darkness.”
Early years and childhood
William Cowper was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, on November 26, 1731. His parents were Ann and Rev. John Cowper. George II’s chaplain and rector of the Church of St. Peter was his father.
In 1737, when he was only six years old, his mother died at the age of 34. His father had a total of seven children, but only one of them, John, grew up to be an adult.
Cowper went to a dame’s school before his mother died. After her sad death, he was sent to a boarding school.
Cowper was taken care of by an oculist for a short time because of inflammation in his eyes. When he felt better, he was sent to a Westminster school. Warren Hastings, Colman, and other people went to school with him.
When he was 18, he started working at a lawyer’s office in Ely Place, Holborn, where he met Thurlow, a clerk who would later become lord chancellor. Thurlow helped Cowper achieve what he wanted to do.
William Cowper’s Career
During the three years that Cowper worked in Ely Place, he went to see his uncle Ashley in Southampton Row, where he met his cousin Theodora, who he fell in love with. But his father was against the relationship, which upset him.
In 1763, his cousin, Major Cowper, put him forward for a clerkship in the House of Lords. It was a trial appearance at the bard of the house.
He was afraid of what would happen, so he tried to kill himself by taking poison. After trying to kill himself three more times, he was sent to a mental hospital.
After 18 months in the asylum, he moved in with a retired priest, Morley Unwin, and his wife, Mary, in Huntingdon. Olney Hymns came out in 1779 after a gospel fan named John Newton asked him to write a hymn book.
Hymns like “Praise for the Fountain Opened” and “Light Shining out of Darkness” were in the book. The Sacred Harp now includes Cowper’s “Olney Hymns” and other hymns.
In 1773, he had a mental breakdown because he thought God had sent him to hell and was telling him to kill himself. After a year of getting the right care, Cowper began to get better again.
Cowper started writing poetry in 1779. He began with “The Progress of Error,” and within three years, he had many poems published under the title “Poems by William Cowper, of the Inner Temple, Esq.”
His next book, “The Task: A Poem, in Six Books,” came out in 1785. It is a poem written in blank verse and is now thought to be his best work ever.
It has six books called “The Sofa,” “The Timepiece,” “The Garden,” “The Winter Evening,” “The Winter Morning Walk,” and “The Winter Walk at Noon.”
Cowper also put a funny poem called “The Diverting History of John Gilpin” in the same book. In the ballad, Gilpin is a draper who rides a horse that has gotten away. When he was feeling very sad, the story gave him hope.
In 1791, he published his blank verse versions of Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey.” These were the most important English versions of these epic poems since Alexander Pope’s versions from earlier in the century.
In 1796, his friend Mary Unwin died, and he was always sad after that. He made changes to “Homer” and then wrote “The Castaway.” He also translated some books, like John Gay’s “Fables,” which he did into Latin.
Major Works: Cowper’s “The Task: A Poem, in Six Books”, shows the Evangelical spirit of the time so well that, in the words of one critic, “The Task is to the religious movement of its author’s time what Paradise Lost is to militant the Puritanism.”
Personal History and Legacies
Cowper had severe bouts of depression his whole life, the kind that sent him to asylums. Living with Morley Unwin and his wife Mary Unwin helped him get over these attacks from time to time.
Cowper stayed with Mary Unwin after Unwin died, and he moved with her wherever she went. Before Unwin died, the two of them made their home in East Dereham.
In the year 1800, he got dropsy, which killed him. He is buried in St. Nicholas Church, East Dereham, in the chapel of St. Thomas of Canterbury.
Estimated Net worth
William is one of the wealthiest poets and is on the list of the most well-known poets. Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider all say that William Cowper is worth about $1.5 million.
Three times, he tried to kill himself. In 1763, he was sent to Nathaniel Cotton’s asylum in St. Albans to get better.
Mary Unwin used to take care of him when he was so sad that he couldn’t do anything.