Poet and churchman John Donne was born in London in 1572. He attended both the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, but did not receive a degree from either university. He studied law at Lincoln's Inn, London, in 1592, and was appointed private secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, Keeper of the Great Seal, in 1598. He became an Anglican priest in 1615 and was appointed royal chaplain later that year. In 1621 he was named dean of St. Paul's Cathedral. Donne prepared for his own death by leaving his sickbed to deliver his own funeral sermon, "Death's Duel", and then returned home to have a portrait of himself made in his funeral shroud. He died in London on March 31, 1631.
Donald R. Dickson is Professor of English at Texas A&M University. He is the author of Tessera of Antilia: Utopian Brotherhoods & Secret Societies in the Early Seventeenth Century and The Fountain of Living Waters: The Typology of the Waters of Life in Herbert, Vaughn, and Traherne. He is co-editor of Of Paradise and Light: Essays on Henry Vaughn and John Milton in Honor of Alan Rudrum, and The Variorum Edition of the Poetry of John Donne: The Anniversaries, Epicedes, and Obsequies.