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KATHARINE PHILIPS (1631-1664)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 401 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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KATHARINE PHILIPS (1631-1664), English poet, daughter of John Fowler, a merchant of Bucklersbury, London, was born on the 1st of January 1631. Her father was a Presbyterian, and Katharine is said to have read the Bible through before she was five years old. On arriving at years of discretion she broke with Presbyterian traditions in both religion and politics, became an ardent admirer of the king and his church policy, and in 1647 married James Philips, a Welsh royalist. Her home at the Priory, Cardigan, became the centre of a "society of friendship," the members of which were known to one another by fantastic names, Mrs Philips being " Orinda," her husband Antenor," Sir Charles Cotterel " Poliarchus." The " match-less " Orinda, as her admirers called her, posed as the apostle of female friendship. That there was much solid worth under her affectations is proved by the respect and friendship she inspired. 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, and there she completed a translation of Corneille's Pompee, 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 on the 22nd of June. 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 Calprenede. Mrs Philips had two children, one of whom, Katharine, became the wife of Lewis Wogan of Boulston, Pembrokeshire. According to Mr Gosse, this lady may have been " Joan Philips," the author of a volume of Female Poems . . . written by Ephelia, which are in the style of Orinda, and display genuine feeling with very little reserve. See E. W. Gosse, Seventeenth Century Studies (1883). Poems, By the Incomparable Mrs K. P. appeared surreptitiously in 1664 and an authentic edition in 1667. Selected Poems, edited with an appreciation by Miss L. I. Guiney, appeared in 1904; but the best modern edition is in Saintsbury's Minor Poets of the Caroline Period (Val., 1905).
End of Article: KATHARINE PHILIPS (1631-1664)
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