William Cowper

15 November 1731–25 April 1800

William Cowper, pastel portrait by George Romney, 1792, National Portrait Gallery, London.

Featured Texts:

God moves in a mysterious way

Publications of Hymns & Poems:

Twenty Six Letters on Religious Subjects to Which Are Added Hymns, &c. (1st ed., 1774): PDF

Olney Hymns (1st. ed., 1779): PDF

Anti-thelyphthora: A Tale in Verse (London, 1781): PDF

“The Diverting History of John Gilpin,” in The Public Advertiser (14 November 1782)

The Entertaining and Facetious History of John Gilpin (broadsheet, ca. 1785): PDF

The Task (1785): PDF

The Task … to Which is Added, Tirocinium (1787): PDF

An Hymn, Written by William Cowper, Esq. to Be Sung After the Sermon for the Benefit of the Children of the Sunday-Schools (ca. 1790): PDF

The Iliad and Odyssey of Homer (1791): Hathitrust

The Origin and Progress of Kings: A Poem (ca. 1798): PDF

Poems (1798): PDF

The Castaway (1799)

The Groans of Creation (ca. 1800): PDF

Poems Translated from the French of Madame de la Mothe Guion (1801): PDF (4th ed)

Poesies et Cantiques Spirituels par Madame J.M.B. de la Mothe-Guyon (Paris, 1790): PDF 1 | PDF 2 | PDF 3

Poems by William Cowper

1st ed. (1782): PDF
2nd ed. (1786): Vol. 1, PDF | Vol. 2, PDF
3rd ed. (1787): Vol. 1, PDF | Vol. 2, PDF
4th ed. (1788): Vol. 1, PDF | Vol. 2, PDF
5th ed. (1793): Vol. 1, PDF | Vol. 2, PDF
6th ed. (1794/5): Vol. 1, PDF | Vol. 2, PDF
New ed. (1798): Vol. 1, PDF | Vol. 2, PDF
New ed. (1800): Vol. 1, PDF | Vol. 2, PDF

see also:
Thomas Maxfield, A Collection of Psalms and Hymns (2nd ed., 1768): PDF
Richard Conyers, A Collection of Psalms and Hymns (1772: PDF | 1774: PDF)
The Collection of Hymns Sung in the Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel (1774): PDF
The Gospel Magazine (1771-1778 | website)
The County Magazine / The Western County Magazine

For a full list of editions and printings of his work with John Newton, see Newton’s page.


For a list of manuscripts and locations, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.


The Works of William Cowper, Esq., ed. Robert Southey (London, 1836), 15 vols.

Vol. 1: PDF | Vol. 2: PDF | Vol. 3: PDF | Vol. 4: PDF | Vol. 5: PDF | Vol. 6: PDF | Vol. 7: PDF | Vol. 8: PDF | Vol. 9: PDF | Vol. 10: PDF | Vol. 11: PDF | Vol. 12: PDF | Vol. 13: PDF | Vol. 14: PDF | Vol. 15: PDF

Thomas Wright, The Correspondence of William Cowper (1904)

Volume 1: PDF
Volume 2: PDF
Volume 3: PDF
Volume 4: PDF

Poems of William Cowper, ed. John Bailey (1905): PDF

Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper, ed. Humphrey Milford (1905, rev. 1906): PDF

The Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper, ed. J. King & C. Ryskamp, 5 vols. (1979-1986)

The Poems of William Cowper, ed. J.D. Baird & C. Ryskamp, 3 vols. (1980-1995): WorldCat

Life & Works:

William Hayley, The Life and Posthumous Writings of William Cowper Esq. (London 1803-4).

New & Enlarged Ed. (1805)
Volume 1: PDF
Volume 2: PDF
Volume 3: PDF
Volume 4: PDF

Samuel Greatheed, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of William Cowper, Esq. (Rev. ed., London: Whittingham & Arliss, 1814): PDF

Edwin Hatfield, “William Cowper,” Poets of the Church (NY, 1884), pp. 158-165: HathiTrust

H. Leigh Bennett, “William Cowper,” ed. John Julian, A Dictionary of Hymnology (London, 1892), pp. 265-266: Google Books

H. Leigh Bennett, “Olney Hymns,” ed. John Julian, A Dictionary of Hymnology (London, 1892), pp. 867-868: Google Books

Thomas Wright, The Life of William Cowper (1892): PDF

David Cecil, The Stricken Deer, or the Life of Cowper (London: Constable, 1929): PDF

William T. Cairns, “The relations between John Newton and William Cowper,” HSGBI Bulletin, no. 16 (July 1941), pp. 1-5.

Charles Ryskamp, William Cowper of the Inner Temple, Esq.: A Study of His Life and Works to the Year 1768 (1959): Amazon

Norma Russell, A Bibliography of William Cowper to 1837 (1963): WorldCat

Vincent Newey, Cowper’s Poetry. A Critical Study and Reassessment (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1982): WorldCat

J.R. Watson, “Cowper’s Olney Hymns,” Essays and Studies (1985).

George M. Ella, William Cowper: Poet of Paradise (Evangelical Press, 1993): Amazon

Louise Risk, A Portrait of William Cowper: His Own Interpreter in Letters and Poems (Bent Branch Publishers, 2004): Amazon

Related Links:

Elizabeth Cosnett, “William Cowper,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:

J.R. Watson, “Olney Hymns,” Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology:

William Cowper at Hymnary.org:

John D. Baird, “William Cowper,” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

Newton & Copwer Museum: