Death surrounded John Donne. His past was plagued with the loss of many close family members, which inspired his work.
Donne's most popular works were his "Devotions." In these poems, Donne concentrates on the miserable condition of man and the inevitability of death
Donne was not always a somber man. In his youth he was a brilliant, pleasure-seeking man-about-town who wrote love poems to various women.
In his later years, Donne was an Anglican reverend. As Dean of St. Paul’s, he was famed for his moving sermons and profound “Holy Sonnets.”
Donne's work and style were defined after his death. Donne is known as the founder of the Metaphysical Poets, a term created by Samuel Johnson, an eighteenth-century English essayist, poet, and philosopher.
Donne studied at Oxford and Cambridge University in his teen years. He did not take a degree at either school, because doing so would have meant subscribing to the doctrine that defined Anglicanism. Later he succumbed to religious pressure and joined the Anglican Church.
In recent years, Donne is best known as a poet. During his lifetime, however, he was best remembered as a preacher.
"The sermons sound heights of spiritual rapture as well as plumbing the depths of existential and eschatological doubt. He uses the public pulpit to puzzle over the difficulties of his personal faith."
Donne had a brilliant law career until he betrayed his employer by marrying a woman under his supervision. This destroyed his plans to be a courtier.
In addition to being more popular as a preacher, Donne's work wasn't truly published until after his passing. His poems were "published" in manuscripts that only traveled amongst friends and trusted patrons during his lifetime.