John Gower

Born: Unknown

Died: October 1408

Gower in History

The life of the poet John Gower is one that has been shrouded in a fair amount of mystery for over six hundred years. Evidence points to him being born sometime in the 1330s (being that he was probably a man of over sixty by the turn of the century) and as being a member of the Kentish gentry. Gower was a personal friend of his fellow poet Geoffrey Chaucer and seems to have been on highly good terms with King Henry IV long before he became king. There is no evidence whatsoever that Gower had any children, and he did not marry until 1398, when he wed a woman named Agnes Groudolf. Unlike Chaucer, Gower does not seem to have involved himself in governmental affairs to any great extent, but evidence points to him being somewhat of a man of the law. By far, Gower is most remembered for his poetic works, written selectively in English, Latin or French. Some of Gower's major works include: the Vox Clamantis (written in Latin about the Peasants Revolt of 1381); the Cronica Tripartita (also written in Latin, about the downfall of Richard II and the accession of Henry IV); and, quite possibly his most famous work, the Confessio Amantis (a collection of numerous narrative poems, written in English). Gower died in October 1408 as a man at least in his seventies and was arguably one of the greatest poets of the middle ages.

Gower in Shakespeare

Appears in: Henry IV, Part 2; Pericles

John Gower (or a man we are led to believe is him) appears very briefly in 2 Henry IV when he is seen acting as a messenger to the Lord Chief Justice, informing him of the whereabouts of the king and prince. He is invited to dinner by Sir John Falstaff, a courtesy he politely refuses. Additionally, Gower appears as the chorus in Shakespeare's romance play Pericles. The play is a retelling of Book VIII of Gower's Confessio Amantis.


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