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Definition: Gower, John from Philip's Encyclopedia

English poet. Ranked in his time with Lydgate and Chaucer, his work includes Vox Clamantis (1379-82), an attack on social injustice, and his most famous work, Confessio Amantis (1386-93), a collection of allegorical tales on the subject of Christian and courtly love.

Summary Article: Gower, John
from Chambers Biographical Dictionary


English medieval poet

Born in Kent, he spent most of his life in London and had contacts with the court in the service of Richard II and Henry IV. A friend of Chaucer, he wrote Speculum Meditantis ("The Mirror of Thought"), in French verse, which was discovered at Cambridge only in 1898, and 50 French ballads. Other works include the Vox Clamantis ("The Voice of One Crying Out"), elegiacs in Latin (1382-84) describing the rising under Wat Tyler, the long English poem Confessio Amantis ("A Lover's Confession", c.1383), consisting of over 100 stories taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses, the Gesta Romanorum ("History of the Romans") and medieval histories of Troy. Gower was blind from about 1400.

  • Burrows, J A Ricardian Poetry: Chaucer, Gower, Langland and the Gawain Poet (1971).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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