The post of Poet Laureate was
first held by Ben Jonson in 1616 but it wasn't until the appointment
of John Dryden in 1668 that the position became official.
post was normally held for life except in the case of Dryden
who had to give the position up to Thomas Shadwell after the
Revolution in 1688 when the Catholic King James
went into exile and was replaced by the joint rule of the Protestants
The post has been held (almost) continuously up until the present
day and although originally intended for poets to work as the
official chronicler of their times it has been awarded since
the 19th century to poets seen as the most talented of their
Previously held for life the position of Poet Laureate is now
restricted to a 10-year period. In 2009 Carol Ann Duffy became
the first woman to become Poet Laureate.