Read an extract from Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon on Yale's blog" /> Read an extract from Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon on Yale's blog" />

Andrew Marvell The Chameleon Nigel Smith

Publication date:
16 Apr 2012
Yale University Press
416 pages: 235 x 156mm
16 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

The seventeenth-century poet Andrew Marvell (1621–1678) is one of the most intriguing figures in English literature. A noted civil servant under Cromwell’s Protectorate, he has been variously identified as a patriot, spy, conspirator, concealed homosexual, father to the liberal tradition, and incendiary satirical pamphleteer and freethinker. But while Marvell’s poetry and prose has attracted a wide modern following, his prose is known only to specialists, and much of his personal life remains shrouded in mystery.

Nigel Smith’s pivotal biography provides an unparalleled look into Marvell’s life, from his early employment as a tutor and gentleman’s companion to his suspicious death, reputedly a politically fueled poisoning. Drawing on exhaustive archival research, the voluminous corpus of Marvell’s previously little known writing, and recent scholarship across several disciplines, Smith’s portrait becomes the definitive account of this elusive life.


Read an extract from Andrew Marvell: The Chameleon on Yale's blog

Nigel Smith is professor of English and codirector of the Center for the Study of Books and Media at Princeton University.

"The remarkable depth of Nigel Smith's research makes new sense of a celebratedly elusive writer."-David Norbrook, author of Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance

"Smith delivers fresh insights into Marvell's experiences and character... a fascinating psychological portrait of Marvell."-Helen Hackett, Times Literary Supplement

"Engaging, intensely researched... Smith is very good on the historical and political contexts surrounding Marvell... Smith's book is a welcome contribution to Marvell studies."-Nick Laird, Daily Telegraph

"The result of Smith's scholarly close readings is a refreshed and refined sense of Marvell's poetry, and his biography should be a standard point of reference for future Marvellians."-John Stubbs, Literary Review

"This context of danger, where revelations of identity can mean a beheading, permeates the poet’s literary as well as his political work, as this scholarly biography shows."–Sunday Herald (Glasgow)