John Gower, an English poet, born, according to tradition, in Yorkshire, though some authorities make him a native of Kent or of Wales, about 1325, died in 1408. He was a gentleman of considerable estate, and appears to have studied law and to have contracted a friendship with Chaucer. It has been said, but on insufficient proof, that he attained the dignity of chief justice of the court of common pleas. Like Chaucer he was a Lancastrian, and like him also a censurer of the vices of the clergy. Chaucer dedicates his "Troilus and Cressida" to Gower, calling him "moral Gower," and the latter in his Confessio Aman-tis introduces Venus calling Chaucer "ray disciple and my poete." Gower's chief works are the Speculum Meditantis, a treatise on the duties of married life, in French verse, in ten books; the Vox Clamantis, a poem in seven books, describing in Latin elegiacs the insurrection of the commons under Richard II.; and the Confessio Amantis, an English poem in eight books, said to have been written at the suggestion of Richard II. Of these works the first is supposed to have perished, the second exists in manuscript copies, and the third, which was finished about 1393, was first published by Caxton in 1483. A new edition, with the life of the author and a glossary, by Dr. Reinhold Pauli, appeared in London in 1857 (3 vols. 8vo). Some smaller poems of no great merit are preserved in manuscript in the library of Trinity college, Cambridge; and Warton discovered in the library of the marquis of Stafford a volume of balades in French, which was printed in 1818 by Lord Gower for the Roxburghe club.
Gower is known chiefly by his Confessio Amantis, which was undoubtedly suggested by Chaucer's English poems. Hallam says: "He is always sensible, polished, perspicuous, and not prosaic in the worst sense of the word." In his latter years he was blind.