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Myths and Legends
Andrew Marvell: Man of contradictions

Early Life in Hull

Hull Grammar School
Hull Grammar School, c.late 1800s
© Courtesy of Hull Local Studies Library
Andrew Marvell was born on 31st March 1621 at Winestead in East Yorkshire where his father (also called Andrew) was the rector. In 1624, the Marvell family moved to Hull where Andrew senior became a “lecturer” at Holy Trinity and master of the Charterhouse. It is widely believed that Marvell attended Hull Grammar School, near Holy Trinity Church, but official registers didn’t begin until 1635 so there is no documentary evidence to prove this. In 1633 Marvell went to Trinity College Cambridge, when he was just 12 years old. However strange this might sound today, it was not an unusual age to enter university in the 17th Century. Tragedy soon followed, Marvell’s mother died in 1638 and his father drowned while crossing the Humber in 1640.

Mysterious Marvell

Hull Grammar School
Hull Grammar School, c1870s
© Courtesy of Hull Local Studies Library
After leaving Cambridge University in 1641, the first of many mysterious periods in Marvell’s life occurred – he disappeared for six years. Some believe that he travelled abroad, as a tutor to a young gentleman on the Grand Tour; others believe that Marvell was on some “government business” in Europe, in other words spying for the government. A government afraid of a return to the Catholic religion used spies to seek out Catholic supporters in Europe to discover what they were plotting and to inform on them.

The only certainty is that Marvell was writing; 'An Horation Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland', which appeared around June/July 1650.

Words: David Smith - Hull Local Studies Library

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