1631 – Dryden was born in the village rectory of Aldwinkle near Oundle in Northamptonshire.
1644 – Dryden was sent to Westminster School as a King’s Scholar where his headmaster was Dr Richard Busby, a charismatic teacher and severe disciplinarian.
1650 – Dryden went up to Trinity College, Cambridge where he would have experienced a return to the religious and political ethos of his childhood. The Master of Trinity was a Puritan preacher by the name of Thomas Hill who had been a rector in Dryden’s home village. Though there is little specific information on Dryden’s undergraduate years, he would have followed the standard curriculum of classics, rhetoric, and mathematics.
1654 – Obtained his BA, graduating top of the list for Trinity that year. In June of the same year Dryden’s father died, leaving him some land which generated a little income, but not enough to live on.
1660 – Dryden celebrated the Restoration of the monarchy and the return of Charles II with Astraea Redux, an authentic royalist panegyric. In this work the interregnum is illustrated as a time of anarchy, and Charles is seen as the restorer of peace and order.
1663 – On December 1, 1663 Dryden married the royalist sister of Sir Robert Howard – Lady Elizabeth. Dryden’s works occasionally contain outbursts against the married state but also celebrations of the same. Thus, little is known of the intimate side of his marriage. Lady Elizabeth however, was to bear him three sons and outlive him.
1700 – Dryden died on May 12, 1700 and is buried in Westminster Abbey.