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Katherine Philips

Katherine Philips (January 1, 1631 - June 22, 1664), was an Anglo-Welsh poet.

Born in London, she was daughter of John Fowler, a Presbyterian, and a merchant of Bucklersbury, London. Katharine is said to have read the Bible through before she was five years old. She broke with Presbyterian traditions in both religion and politics, and became an ardent admirer of the king and his church policy, and in 1647 married James Philips, a Welsh Parliamentarian.

Her home at the Priory, Cardigan, Wales became the centre of a society of friendship, the members of which were known to one another by fantastic names, Philips being "Orinda", her husband "Antenor", and Sir Charles Cotterel "Poliarchus". "The matchless Orinda", as her admirers called her, was regarded as the apostle of female friendship, and inspired great respect. Jeremy Taylor in 1659 dedicated to her his Discourse on the Nature, Offices and Measures of Friendship, and Cowley, Henry Vaughan the Silurist, the Earl of Roscommon and the Earl of Cork and Orrery all celebrated her talent. In 1662 she went to Dublin to pursue her husband's claim to certain Irish estates; there she completed a translation of Pierre Corneille's Pompe, produced with great success in 1663 in the Smock Alley Theatre, and printed in the same year both in Dublin and London. She went to London in March 1664 with a nearly completed translation of Corneille's Horace, but died of smallpox. The literary atmosphere of her circle is preserved in the excellent Letters of Orinda to Poliarchus, published by Bernard Lintot in 1705 and 1709. Poliarchus (Sir Charles Cotterel) was master of the ceremonies at the court of the Restoration, and afterwards translated the romances of La Calprende. Mrs Philips had two children, one of whom, Katharine, became the wife of a "Lewis Wogan" of Boulston, Pembrokeshire. According to Gosse, Katharine may have been the author of a volume of Female Poems ... written by Ephelia, which are in the style of Orinda.

References
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
Bibliography
  • Edmund Gosse, Seventeenth Century Studies (1883).
  • Poems, By the Incomparable Mrs K. P. appeared surreptitiously in 1664 and an authentic edition in 1667.

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