Dryden lived in a time of political and religious turmoil, and his own beliefs seemed to shift with the times. He supported the Anglican church and then the Catholic church.
Dryden wrote poetry, verse satire, prose prefaces, and literary criticism. However, his chief source of income was the stage. He wrote comedic, heroic, and tragic plays.
Dryden was Poet Laureate for England. He lost the position after he converted to Roman Catholicism.
Dryden came from a large family. He was one of fourteen children of Erasmus Dryden and his wife Mary.
John Dryden published "The State of Innocence and the Fall of Man," an operatic rewriting of John Milton's Paradise Lost. The text had been finished for four years before it was published in 1677.
The State of Innocence rewrites Milton in ways that explicitly contradict Milton's understanding of heroic poetry. "By translating Milton's blank verse into rhyme and his epic narrative into dramatic form, Dryden separates both the man and his authoritative stylistic choices from the poem he wrote."
Dryden began his publishing career shortly after attending Cambridge. He published Heroic Stanzas to the memory of Oliver Cromwell in 1659.
In late life, Dryden changed the focus of his work. Dryden devoted his last years largely to translation, including his famous Virgil.
Dryden showed little interest in his work after it was finished. He never revised or made collections of his work.
Dryden uses Virgil to acknowledge ambition and express sorrow. His verses often used contradictory points such as these, and became a hallmark of his work.