Born: August, 1591, in London, England
Died: October, 1674, in Dean Prior, England
The precise date of Robert Herrick's birth is not known but he was baptized on August 24, 1591. He was the seventh child of Nicholas Herrick, a goldsmith who died under suspicious circumstances when Herrick was quite young.
Sir William Herrick, Robert's uncle, was a member of parliament, a wealthy land owner and a jeweler for the king. At a young age, Herrick was apprenticed to his uncle in the jewelry business which brought him the opportunity to meet and mingle with the best of London's society.
Herrick excelled scholastically and was admitted to St. John's College at the University of Cambridge in 1613. He completed his master of arts degree in 1620 and was ordained three years later. He returned to London where he met Ben Johnson, a writer who influenced the work of Herrick and many of his contemporaries.
Beginning in 1620, Herrick began writing poetry with a passion and quickly established his reputation as a poet. From this time to his death, he produced more than 2500 pieces. Despite his strong religious foundation, Herrick's poetry was often light in subject and tone.
In 1629, Herrick became the vicar of Dean Prior in Devonshire. He was a dynamic preacher and is reputed to have thrown his sermon at the congregation once when he felt they were not paying attention. The rural parish was a radical departure from the society life of London and Herrick had some difficulties adjusting, but he derived some enjoyment from the livestock he kept including a pig he adopted as a pet and taught to drink.
During the Great Rebellion of 1647, Herrick was removed from the position of Parish vicar. Subsequently, he published his only book, Hesperides, which was a collection of 1400 poems ranging from drinking songs to church hymns.
In 1660 King Charles was returned to the throne, and Herrick was reinstated as vicar at Dean Prior where he served until his death. He was never married and is buried in an unmarked grave at Dean Prior.
Herrick's work employs diverse forms, unique style and warm feeling. Although some of his work addresses themes on religion, most of his work addressed life in the country and the customs of the rural inhabitants.