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Winner of the 2022 Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction.
Sometime religious outsider and social disaster, sometime celebrity preacher and establishment darling, John Donne was incapable of being just one thing. He was a scholar of law, a sea adventurer, an MP, a priest, the Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral – and perhaps the greatest love poet in the history of the English language. He converted from Catholicism to Protestantism, was imprisoned for marrying a high-born girl without her father’s consent, struggled to feed a family of ten children and was often ill and in pain. He was a man who suffered from black surges of sadness, yet expressed in his verse electric joy and love.