John Carey is Arts Emeritus Merton Professor of English at Oxford University. He has appeared as a host and commentator on numerous television and radio programs in England and is the former chief book reviewer for The Sunday Times. Among his books are The Intellectuals and the Masses, What Good Are the Arts?, Pure Pleasure: A Guide to the Twenieth Century’s Most Enjoyable Books, and a biography of William Golding. He has chaired the Booker Prize committee twice and in 2005 was the chair of the first international Booker Prize committee. His memoir The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books was published in March 2014.


Wildly Different Poets

‘The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa of Avila’; sculpture by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Cornaro Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome, mid-seventeenth century

Music at Midnight: The Life and Poetry of George Herbert

by John Drury

The English Poems of Richard Crashaw

edited and with an introduction by Richard Rambuss
George Herbert is among the best-loved English poets, and he is singular in that he is valued as much for his personality—his humility, gentleness, and holiness—as for his poetry. In this respect he is the polar opposite of, for example, Shakespeare, who is valued solely for his poetry, since we …

‘The Master Poet of Democracy’

Robert Burns, 1787; portrait by Alexander Nasmyth

The Bard: Robert Burns, A Biography

by Robert Crawford
Robert Burns is different from the other great European poets both in achievement and in reputation. If you ask a group of academic friends to list the great poets of the last two or three hundred years, it is quite likely that his name will not come up at all.

Love & Heresy in John Donne

John Donne: The Reformed Soul

by John Stubbs
John Donne is remembered as a great Elizabethan love poet, some would say the greatest love poet in the English language. But he might easily, had things fallen out differently, have been remembered as a Catholic martyr. He was born, in 1572, into one of the foremost Catholic families in …