In 1616 Ben Jonson was named England's first poet laureate; however, the title did not become an official royal office until 1668, when John Dryden assumed the honored post. Since that time, the office has been awarded for life. The poet laureate is responsible for composing poems for court and national occasions. At the time of each laureate's death, it is the duty of the prime minister to nominate successors from which the reigning sovereign will choose. It is Lord Chamberlain who appoints the poet laureate by issuing a warrant to the laureate-elect. The life appointment is always announced in the London Gazette .
English Poet Laureates
|* 1757-85||William Whitehead||1715-85|
|1790-1813||Henry James Pye||1745-1813|
|** 1850-92||Alfred, Lord Tennyson||1809-92|
|1972-84||Sir John Betjeman||1906-84|
|1984-98||Ted Hughes||(b. 1930)-98|
* The 1757 appointment was declined by Thomas Gray.
** The 1850 appointment was declined by Samuel Rogers.
American Poet Laureates
|1986||Robert Penn Warren||1905-1989|
|1992||Mona Van Duyn||1921-|