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William Habington

(1605 - 1654 / England)

Biography of William Habington

William Habington was born at Hindlip, Worcestershire in 1605, and educated at Saint-Omer and Paris. He married Lucy, daughter of William Herbert, Baron Powis, and a year or two after his marriage, in 1634, issued his well-known "Castara" (see Arber's English Reprints, 1870), a series of poems addressed mainly to his wife.

In 1635 and 1640 second and third enlarged editions of the book appeared respectively. The poems are mostly short, many of them sonnets, and interspersed are several of the prose characters fashionable at the time. A few verses are addressed to friends, including Ben Jonson. The poetry of "Castara" has been said to show a peculiarly refined and pure imagination; skilful, melodious and containing many beautiful passages. It displays some of the so-called "metaphysical" qualities which pervaded most 'Caroline' verse.

In 1640, he published a romantic tragedy, the "Queen of Arragon", which attracted interest because of passages illustrating an independence of mind upon certain social and political questions. It was acted at Court, and after the revival of the Restoration. In the same year, Thomas a prose "History of Edward IV", reprinted in Kennet's "Complete History of England" (London, 1706) and stated to have been written and published at the desire of King Charles I.

In 1641 followed "Observations upon History", a series of prose pieces depicting great events in Europe, "such as" (he says) "impressed me in the reading and make the imagination stand amazed at the vicissitude of time and fortune". Professor Saintsbury remarks of Habington that "he is creditably distinguished from his contemporaries by a very strict and remarkable decency of thought and language".

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