William Cowper ("Coo-per") was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England in 1731.
Although he studied law, he was subject to bouts of melancholy and depression.
In 1763, when offered a government position
though his uncle's influence, Cowper had a breakdown that resulted in a 2 year stay in an asylum.
When sufficiently recovered,
he went to live with a family named Unwin, at Huntingdon, a quiet old town on the river Ouse, and later at Olney. With the
support of his friends, he began to lead a quiet and secure life, composing poetry of everyday life and the English countryside,
that would ultimately change the course of 18th century nature poetry.