A joiner's son, Matthew Prior attended Westminster School where he attracted the patronage of the Earl of Dorset who sent him to St John's College Cambridge (B.A. 1687, Fellow 1688-1721, M.A. 1700). As a Whig, Prior was secretary to the Embassy at The Hague (1690-97), secretary to the embassy at Paris (1698-99), M.P. for East Grinstead (1701) and Lord of the Trade (1700-07). Changing parties, he became a supporter of Robert Harley and engaged in negotiating the Treaty of Utrecht, for which he was imprisoned upon Queen Anne's death. Prior was buried "at his desire at the feet of Spenser"; his annotated copy of Spenser's Works survives.
1693To a Lady of Quality's playing on the Lute.
1694A Satyr against Poetry. In a Letter to the Lord D—.
1704A Letter to Monsieur Boileau Despreaux.
1706An Ode, humbly inscrib'd to the Queen.
1706An Ode, humbly inscrib'd to the Queen: The Preface.
1718Preface to Solomon.
1721Colin's Mistakes. Written in imitation of Spenser's Style.
On the coronation. 1685.
The hind and the panther transvers'd to the story of the country mouse and the city mouse. 1687.
The orange. 1688.
An ode in imitation of the second ode of the third book of Horace. 1692.
For the New Year: to the sun. 1694.
To the King: an ode on his Majesty's arrival in Holland. 1695.
An English ballad in answer to Mr Despreaux's Pindarique ode on the taking of Namur. 1695.
Verses humbly presented to the King at his arrival in Holland. 1696.
A new answer to an argument against a standing army. 1697.
Carmen saeculare for the year 1700. 1700.
To a young gentleman in love. 1702.
Prologue spoken at Court before the Queen on her Majesty's birth-day. 1704.
A letter to Monsieur Boileau-Despreaux occasion'd by the victory at Blenheim. 1704.
An English padlock. 1705.
Pallas and Venus: an epigram. 1706.
An ode humbly inscrib'd to the Queen. 1706.
Phaedra and Hippolitus, by Mr Edmund Smith [prologue]. 1707.
Poems on several occasions. 1707, 1709.
Horace lib I epist ix imitated. 1711.
To the Right Honorable Mr Harley, wounded by Guiscard. 1711.
Archibaldi Pitcarnii Scot carmen imitated. 1712.
Walter Danniston ad amicos imitated. 1712?
Earl Robert's mice. 1712.
Two imitations of Chaucer. 1712.
A fable of the widow and her cat. 1712.
Thos Britton small-coal-man. 1712?
A memorial against the fortifying of the ports of Dunkirk and Mardike. 1715.
A second collection of poems on several occasions. 1716.
The dove. 1717.
Poems on several occasions. 1718.
Verses spoke to the Lady Henrietta Cavendish Holles Harley. 1719.
Engraved on three sides. 1720?
Prologue to the Orphan. 1720.
The conversation. 1720.
The lame and the blind. 1720?
Colin's mistakes. 1721.
The turtle and the sparrow. 1723.
A new collection of poems on several occasions by Mr. Prior, and others. 1725.
Writings, ed. A. R. Waller. 2 vols, 1905-07.
On Fleet Shepheards takeing. 1927.
Literary works, ed. H. B. Wright and M. K. Spears. 2 vols, 1959.