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10 of the Best Short Literary Epitaphs

The best epitaphs of famous writers

Writers love to have the final word, and many great poets have composed their final lines, the lines that will crown their lifetime’s achievement and adorn the stones marking their final resting place. Some of the most memorable literary epitaphs are also the briefest, and remain witty, moving, or memorable – or all three – thanks to this brevity. Here, then, are ten of the finest short literary epitaphs that commemorate the lives, and deaths, of ten great writers.

William Shakespeare. We may as well begin with the greatest poet in the English language. Surely Shakespeare penned one of the greatest literary epitaphs that the world can boast? Well, it’s certainly memorable, threatening to bring down a curse upon anyone who disturbs his tomb. Read the rest of this entry

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Five Fascinating Facts about Sir Philip Sidney

Facts about the life of Elizabethan poet and courtier Sir Philip Sidney

1. Philip Sidney invented the name Pamela. Sidney (1554-1586) was a true ‘Renaissance man’: soldier, statesman, poet, diplomat, and – it would appear – coiner of popular girls’ names. Or at least this one name. Pamela appears in Sidney’s long prose work Arcadia (of which more below). The name means ‘all sweetness’ (from pan meaning all, and mela from the Latin for ‘sweet’ or ‘honey’, whence ‘mellifluous’). Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about John Donne

Fun facts about the poet John Donne and his colourful life

1. John Donne coined several well-known phrases. Both ‘no man is an island’ and ‘for whom the bell tolls’ (the latter of which Ernest Hemingway used as the title for one of his novels) originate in one of John Donne’s meditations, Meditation XVII. In fact, despite his rather dissolute youth and early life, Donne (1572-1631) eventually became a priest in 1615 and in 1621 was appointed Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Read the rest of this entry