Andrew Marvell was born at Winestead-in-Holderness, Yorkshire, on 31 March 1621 the son of the Rev. Andrew Marvell, and his wife Anne. When Marvell was three, the family moved to Hull as Rev. Marvell took-up the post of Master of the Charterhouse and Lecturer at Holy Trinity Church. He was educated at the Hull Grammar School, and Trinity College, Cambridge and remained until 1640 when his father died in a boating accident whilst crossing the River Humber.
Marvell became a tutor to a young gentleman taking the Grand Tour and spent four years travelling across France, Holland,Switzerland, Spain, and Italy. In 1650, Marvell became the tutor of twelve-year-old Mary Fairfax, daughter of Sir Thomas Fairfax , retired Lord General of the Parliamentary forces. At the Yorkshire seat of the Fairfax family, Nun Appleton House, Marvell seems to have written most of his non-satiric English poems. The sojourn provided material for Marvell's most profound poem, "Upon Appleton House". Here he examines the competing claims of public service and the search for personal insight. To the same period probably belong Marvell's "To his Coy Mistress" and "The Definition of Love."
Marvell had befriended John Milton and in 1653 Milton wrote a glowing recommendation for Marvell for the post of Assistant Latin Secretary to the Council of State, a post he eventually secured in 1657. Marvell, who had been a supporter of the King, under the Commonwealth, became an adherent of Cromwell as evident in his “The First Anniversary of the Government under O.C.” the only poem to be published in his name during his lifetime.
In the summer of 1657, Marvell tutored Cromwell's nephew and ward, William Dutton, living at Eton. After the Restoration, in 1660, Marvell seems to have intervened to save Milton from an extended jail term and possible execution.
MP for Hull
In 1659 Marvell was elected MP for Hull, and he continued to represent it until his death. He was active on behalf of the city and corresponded with constituents and local businesses and campaigned on behalf of Hull Corporation in matters of wine licenses, excise and the discouragement of foreign shipping.
During his last twenty years of life, Marvell was engaged in political activities, taking part in embassies to Holland and Russia and writing political pamphlets and satires.
Andrew Marvell died on 16 August 1678 and was buried in the church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields and an edition of his work Miscellaneous Poems was printed in 1681.
Marvell’s political career overshadowed that of his poetry for more than two hundred years. In the mid nineteenth century his poetry began to be read and appreciated more widely. A statue of Andrew Marvell can be found in Trinity Square, outside the Old Grammar School that he attended as a child. In 1921 Hull celebrated the tercentenary of his birth with city-wide events.
There is a list of books offering further reading on the poetry and life of Andrew Marvell.