Authors: Katherine Philips

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"Katherine Philips," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Entry at Poetry Foundation
Literature OnLine Author Page [UMass students only]

Poems of Katherine Philips, ed. P. Thomas (1990)
Selected Poems, ed. J. R. Tutin (1904)

Poems by the most deservedly admired Katherine Philips, the matchless Orinda (EEBO, London, 1667)

 

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Katherine Philips (1632-1664), it is reported, had read the Bible through before she was four years old. She was both a devoted Christian and brilliant. Her father, John Oxenbridge, was a puritan and a friend of Andrew Marvell and John Milton. In 1648, she married James Philips and moved to Cardigan, Wales. Her husband James was a Member of Parliament, a judge, and a soldier. During the Civil War, Philips sided with the Royalists. Philips' children Hector and Frances both died in childhood. Hector's death is the subject of one of her most moving poems. She had fifteen grandchildren, but fourtheen died in childhood.

Her poems explore a number of fundamental themes, especially friendship. Philips' poems were published after her death in 1664. A second, expanded collection appeared in 1667. She was immediately recognized for the astounding poet she is. Her star, though, was tied to Donne, and as his reputation waxed and waned, so did hers. Philips has only recently been anthologized in college textbooks.