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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

Laureateship
Poet
Birth - Death Dates
1668-88 John Dryden 1631-1700
1689-92 Thomas Shadwell 1643?-92
1692-1715 Nahum Tate 1652-1715
1715-18 Nicholas Rowe 1674-1718
1718-30 Laurence Eusden 1688-1730
1730-57 Colley Cibber 1671-1757
* 1757-85 William Whitehead 1715-85
1785-90 Thomas Warton 1728-90
1790-1813 Henry James Pye 1745-1813
1813-43 Robert Southey 1774-1843
1843-50 William Wordsworth 1770-1850
** 1850-92 Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809-92
1896-1913 Alfred Austin 1835-1913
1913-30 Robert Bridges 1844-1930
1930-67 John Masefield 1878-1967
1968-72 Cecil Day-Lewis 1904-72
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

Laureateship
Poet
Birth - Death Dates
1986 Robert Penn Warren 1905-1989
1987 Richard Wilbur 1921-
1988 Howard Nemerov 1920-1991
1990 Mark Strand 1934-
1991 Joseph Brodsksy 1940-
1992 Mona Van Duyn 1921-
1993 Rita Dove 1952-