The Renaissance 1485-1660



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The Renaissance
The Elizabethan Age
Wyatt, Sir Thomas 1503-1542
Born in Allington, England, Sir Thomas Wyatt became a man of of great lyric poetry. Wyatt studied at Cambridge and soon became knighted in 1536. In 1537, Wyatt was made high sheriff of Kent and later became a courtier and diplomat for Henry VIII. He went on a number of diplomatic missions to Spain, France and Italy, giving Wyatt experience with Renaissance poetry. Wyatt was said to have been involved with Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII´s wife after Catherine of Aragon, definitely a displeasing situation for Henry. Wyatt was arrested and imprisoned twice for upsetting the King. Both times he was eventually pardoned. Later, Wyatt moved back to Kent and wrote poetry. Although Wyatt died in 1542, his poems were published in Tottel´s Miscellany. Wyatt´s poems helped introduce the Italian sonnet form to England and English Literature.
Spenser, Edmund 1552-1599
Edmund Spenser was born and educated in London. He attended Cambridge University and in 1576 he left to become a noblemen. One of his services included the Earl of Leicester, which allowed him the opportunity of meeting Sir Philip Sidney. In the late 1570´s, the two discuss poetry and literature together. His first work, a series of pastoral poems, was dedicated to Sidney and was called The Shepherd´s Calendar. In 1580, Spenser went to Ireland to assist Lord Grey of Wilton, who was Lord Deputy of Ireland. For his services, Spenser received the Kilcolman Castle, where he settled in 1586. Spenser spent the rest of his life in Ireland, where he began his major work. Here, Spenser wrote The Faerie Queen, an immense epic poem in a deliberate archaic style. This nine-line verse pattern poem created the Spenserian stanza. The first three books of The Faerie Queen , each over five thousand lines long, were published 1590, when Spenser was established as England´s greatest poet. Spenser planned to write fifteen or twenty books of the The Faerie Queen but only published three additional books afterwards. In Spenser´s last years, Ireland began to crumble. His castle was sacked by Irish rebels and he was forced to return to London where he died on January 13, 1599. Spenser was buried near Chaucer in Westminster Abbey.
Sidney, Sir Philip 1554-1586
Sir Philip Sidney was born in Penshurst, Kent, England and was educated at Oxford. After his education, Sidney travelled Europe from 1572 to 1575. A short period after, Sidney left the English court in 1580. He was then knighted. He was sent to Holland to help in the war against Spain. Through this period, Sidney wrote many works including Arcadia, The Defence of Poesie, Astrophel, and Stella. These works were published posthumously after his death at the age of 32.
Marlowe, Christopher 1564-1593
Chritopher Marlowe was born in Canterbury, England, two months after the birth of William Shakespeare. The eldest son of a shoemaker, Marlowe was educated at Cambridge University on a scholarship given to him by the Archbishop of Canterbury. After his completion of university in 1587, Marlowe moved to London where he was the dramatist for an acting company, Admiral´s Men. During the time he spent writing he produced many great plays including Tamburlaine (1587), The Jew of Malta (1591) and The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. Apart from writing plays and conversing with his friend Sir Walter Raleigh, Marlowe also served as a secret agent for the Queen. The life of Christopher Marlowe came to a quick end when he was in a Deptford tavern sharing a drink with other friends from the secret agency before he was to be captured by the Queen´s Privy Council. When Marlowe began arguing with Ingram Frizer over who would pay the bill, Marlowe grabbed a dagger and hit Frizer with the flat end over the head. In a scuffle that followed, Frizer took the dagger and stabbed Marlowe in the eye. Marlowe died three days later in London. Because of the timing of Marlowe´s death and the lack of retribution from the killer, some scholars have led to believe that Marlowe´s death was faked and he took up a new identity. This new identity is believed by some to be the identity of William Shakespeare. This new identity is possible because it is very unlikely that a time period could emerge to literary geniuses and Shakespeare became famous after the death of Marlowe. There is also the fact that they were born in the same year and Shakespeare lived longer than Marlowe. This possibility will always run through the minds of scholars.
Raleigh, Sir Walter 1552-1618
Sir Walter Raleigh was born in Hayes Barton, Devon, England and was educated at Oxford. After becoming a favourite of Elizabeth I, Raleigh was knighted (1584) and was sent on his first expeditions to America. Because of a love affair with Bessy Throckmorton, one of the Queen´s maids-of-honour, he was sent to the Tower. When he was released, Raleigh married Bessy and was once again sent to the Tower (1603) with a death sentence due to his enemies turning King James I against him. It was while in the Tower that Raleigh wrote History of the World (1614). When he was once again released, Raleigh journeyed to the Orinoco to look for a gold mine, which he did not find. With his return to his home, Raleigh´s death sentence was carried at the age of 66.
Shakespeare, William 1564-1616
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, the eldest of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden´s three sons. Little is known about Shakespeare´s early years. However, scholars have come to some approximate dates to the events in Shakespeare´s life. In 1591, Shakespeare moved to London to become a writer and an actor. During the years of the plague and when the theatres were closed (1592-1594), Shakespeare wrote many poems including Venus and Adonis (1592) and The Rape of Lucrece (1593-1594). From then until 1600, Shakespeare created his sonnets which were not published until 1609. Following his sonnets was another poem, The Phoenix and the Turtle (1660-1601). While not writing poems, Shakespeare created some of the most famous plays in the history of English literature. These included Richard II (1592-1593), The Taming of the Shrew (1593-1594), Romeo and Juliet (1594-1596), Henry V (1598-1599), Julius Caesar (1599), Hamlet (1600-1601), Othello (1603-1604), King Lear (1605-1606), Macbeth (1605-1606), and The Tempest (1611). These are only a few of the 37 plays that Shakespeare published in his life. Among the many works Shakespeare created, he also had a share in the Globe Theatre and substantial investments in Stratford real estate. Shakespeare died at the age of 52 and was buried in Stratford.
De Quincey, Thomas 1785-1850
Thomas De Quincey was a British writer and a critic. He studied at Oxford where he took opium to cure a toothache and became addicted to it for the rest of his life. Among his critics is his famous interpretation of Shakespeare´s Macbeth in which he was puzzled by the knocking of the gate in Act 2, Scene 2-3 after Duncan´s murder. De Quincey is best known for his Confessions of an English Opium Eater, a book about his drug problem, written in 1822.
Bacon, Francis 1561-1626
Francis Bacon was born in London, England, the son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, and was educated at Cambridge and Gray´s Inn. After being called to the bar, Bacon became a Member of Parliament in 1584. Nine years later, Bacon was knighted by King James I and became the solicitor general in 1607. To follow this position he became attorney general (1613), privy counsellor (1616), Lord Keeper (1617), Lord Chancellor (1618), and Baron Verulam (1618). During those same years, Bacon wrote his most famous works, The Advancement of Learning (1605) and Novum Organum (1620), both books were written on his philosophy of science. In 1621, Bacon accepted the position as viscount. However, due to public accusations that he took bribes, he was fined, imprisoned, and prohibited from parliament and the court. After being pardoned for his crime, he refused to return to public office and later died, profoundly in debt, at the age of 65.
The Jacobean Age
Donne, John 1572-1631
John Donne was born in London, England and was educated at Oxford and Cambridge. After studying law, Donne was given the position as secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton. Due to a secret marriage to Egerton´s niece, Donne was imprisoned. He was also given the choice to either work for the English court in the church or not work for the court at all. After some time thinking, Donne decided to go into the Anglican Church. At first he was only a priest but soon his eminent sermons took him to the position as the Dean of St. Paul´s. He became well known throughout the public of England. His works continued as he published many other books on the church. Donne died at the age of 59.
Herbert, George 1593-1633
George Herbert was born in Montgomery Castle, Powys, Wales, U.K., and studied at Cambridge. In 1919, Herbert became a public orator and later became a Member of Parliament. In 1930, Herbert joined the church and served as a parish priest of Bemerton, Wiltshire. During his time as a priest he wrote many poems that were later collected in The Temple (1633). He also wrote his most famous prose work during this time, A Priest in the Temple (1652). Herbert died at the age of 40.
Marvell, Andrew 1621-1678
Andrew Marvell was born in Winestead, Hull, England and was educated at Cambridge. During the age of 21-25, Marvell travelled across Europe and on his return to England he worked as a tutor and an assistant to John Milton. His most famous written work was To His Coy Mistress was written during the same time he worked for Milton. IN 1659, Marvell became a Member of Parliament and his writing changed to pamphlets and satires devoted to insulting inconsistent governments. Marvell died at the age of 57.
Vaughan, Henry 1622-1695
Henry Vaughan was born in Newton-by-Usk, Wales, U.K. and was educated at Oxford and London. After settling near Brecon, England, Vaughan started his own practise as a doctor. During his life he wrote many works. His most notable, however, are Silex Scintillans (1650), and The Mount of Olives (1652). His works also included many elegies, and translations. Vaughan died at the age of 73.
Jonson, Benjamin 1572-1637
Benjamin Jonson was born in London, England and was educated at Westminster School. During his life, Jonson worked as a bricklayer, in the military in Flanders, and Henslowe´s company of players. In 1598, Jonson preformed his own play with His Man in His Humour, Shakespeare in the cast. Shortly after this, Jonson went through a drought in his success. He also published Volpone (1606), The Silent Women (1609), The Alchemist (1610), and Bartholomew Fair (1614). Before and after his death at the age of 65, Jonson became an extensive influence on many 17th century poets.
Herrick, Robert 1591-1674
Robert Herrick was born in London, England and was educated at Cambridge. For a short period of his life, Herrick worked in Devon but was, however, confined from living as a royalist (1647). In 1648, Herrick published Hesperides, a book of his collected poems. Herrick died at the age of 83.
Suckling, Sir John 1609-1642
John Suckling was born in Whitton, Middlesex, England and was educated at Cambridge. He became involved with politics but this the intrigue went on to lead him to leave his country. Suckling wrote plays that were very austere, for instance his Aglaura (1637). Nevertheless, his lyrics were successful. His lyrics were published posthumously in Fragmenta aurea (1646). Suckling died in Paris at the age of 33.
Lovelace, Richard 1618-1657
Richard Lovelace was born in England and was educated at Oxford. His evolvement with politics caused him to spend some time imprisoned. Later in his life, Lovelace left England to help France capture Dunkirk for Spain. When he reappeared in England, Lovelace was once again imprisoned in 1648. It was during his time spent in prison that Lovelace wrote many of his poems. Before his death, his poems were published in Lucasta (1649). Lovelace died at the age of 39.
The Puritan Age
Milton, John 1608-1674
John Milton was born in London, England and was educated at Cambridge and Horton. In 1629, Milton published one if his most known poems, On The Morning of Christ´s Nativity, a poem that is still read during the Christmas season. It was during the time he spent at Horton that Milton wrote L´Allegro and Il Penseroso, Comus, and Lycidas. After taking part in the English Civil War, Milton published Poems (1645). During the 1640´s, Milton began publishing pamphlets and the he followed them with 20 years of silence except a few sonnets here and there. The Silence came when Milton was blinded and he began contemplating his greatest work, Paradise Lost. This long poem was succeeded by Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes. Milton died at the age of 66.
Bunyan, John 1628-1688
John Bunyan was born in Elstow, Bedfordshire, England. During the English Civil War (1644-1645), Bunyan fought as a tinker on the parliamentary side. Later, Bunyan merged into a Christian fellowship and spread the word of the Christian God around Bedford. After being arrested in 1660, Bunyan began to write in his cell. During the twelve years spent in prison, he published Grace Abounding (1666), and Declaration of Indulgence (1672). Shortly after he was released, Bunyan was once again imprisoned for six months. During this time he published the beginning of The Pilgrim´s Progress. When the Bedford, prison ceased to be his home. Bunyan returned to being a pastor in Bedford for 16 more years. It was also at this time that he wrote the second part to The Pilgrim´s Progress (1684). Bunyan died at the age of 60.