The Works Of Abraham Cowley

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by Abraham Cowley

Abraham Cowley (1618-1667) was a poet that began to publish when he was only twelve, as he was enamored with the romantic ideals and artistry possible in poetry.[1] He was a strong royalist, and one of his most famous and controversial works is an epic poem on the history of the English Civil War written from a decidedly royalist slant.[2] Cowley wrote poetry on love, virtue, and to praise contemporaries after they died, all of which expressed his pure and strong character.[3]

The Works of Abraham Cowley was the first folio compilation of Cowley’s work to be published under the supervision of the executor of his literary works in 1668. The poems and essays in this edition greatly impacted seventeenth century poetry, with fourteen printings of the folio between 1668 and 1721.[4] He was highly praised during this time because of his inclusion of classical formal elements in his poetry that influenced the style of Romantic poets.[5]

Abraham Crowley was one of the leading English poets of the seventeenth century. He excelled in every literary genre he undertook. In his early years, he was best known as a dramatist and satirist; in mid life he was read for the love lyrics of "The Mistresse" and for his Pindaric odes; he also wrote essays. It is not for lack of talent that Cowley is accorded secondary status as a poet next to his contemporary, John Milton, but because Cowley's epics - "The Civil War" and "Davideis" - were not completed. His four books on the biblical kings, however, broke new ground for the epic, preparing the way for Milton's "Paradise Lost."

Bibliographic Information

Author: Abraham Cowley

Title: The Works Of Abraham Cowley: Consisting of Those Which Were Formerly Printed and Those Which He Design'd for the Press, Now Published Out of the Authors Original Copies

Publication Info: 5th ed. London: Printed by J.M. for H. Herringman, 1678.


Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in full leather with raised bands and gold and black impressing. Contains engraved portrait frontispiece. Purchased from Attic Books.


  1. William Cullen Bryant, “Abraham Cowley,” The North American Review, 124, No. 256 (University of Northern Iowa, 1877), p. 369.
  2. Alexander Lindsay, “Cowley, Abraham (1618–1667)”, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004), accessed September 19, 2013. Unless otherwise noted, all biographical details are from this source.
  3. Bryant, pp. 375-80.
  4. Lindsay.
  5. Arthur H. Nethercot, “The Reputation of Abraham Cowley (1660-1800),” PMLA, 38, No. 3 (Modern Language Association, 1923), p. 592.