The Lady and the Poet
by Maeve Haran
St Martins Press 2009
There are very few real love stories from Englands Golden Era when Elizabeth was on the throne. This is probably the first one I have ever read about. I enjoyed this book so much that I stayed up until 2 AM reading it. I have not done that for a long time.
This is the fictionalised story of the true love affair between Lady Ann More (a distant relation of Thomas More) and the poet John Donne. Ann was 14 and John was 25 when they first met.
Ann More, fiery and spirited daughter of the Mores of Loseley House in Surrey, came to London destined for a life at the court of Queen Elizabeth and an advantageous marriage. There she encountered John Donne, the darkly attractive young poet who was secretary to her uncle, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.
He was unlike any man she had ever met — angry, clever, witty — and in her eyes, insufferably arrogant and careless of women. Yet as they were thrown together Donne opened Ann’s eyes to a new world of passion, and sensuality.
But John Donne (who had a Catholic background in an age when it was deadly dangerous) was exactly the kind of man Ann's status-conscious father distrusted and despised.
This historical novel tells the story of the forbidden love between one of our most admired poets and a girl who dared to rebel against the conventions of her time.
They gave up everything to be together.
I require a book of love poems with Spring coming on. No Keats or Shelley. Send me poets who can make love without slobbering. Wyatt or Jonson or somebody. Use your own judgment. Just a nice book, preferably small enough to stick in a slacks pocket and take to Central Park.
Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road.
Helene Hanff read John Donne's sermons, not his poems.