William Cowper (1731-1800) was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England. He was an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. His major works are: Olney Hymns (1779), in collaboration with John Newton, John Gilpin (1782), The Task (1785), and Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (1791) (translations from the Greek). He suffered from periods of severe depression, and although he found refuge in a fervent evangelical Christianity, the source of his much-loved hymns, he often experienced doubt and fears that he was doomed to eternal damnation. However, his religious motivations and association with John Newton (who wrote the hymn "Amazing Grace") led to much of the poetry for which he is best remembered in the popular mind.