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  • English RenaissanceWriters

  • Christopher "Kit" Marlowe (baptised 26 February 1564 30 May 1593) was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. The foremost Elizabethan tragedian next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his magnificent blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his own mysterious and untimely death.Christopher Marlowe

  • Christopher Marlowe was christened at St. George's Church, Canterbury, on 26 February 1564. He was born to a shoemaker in Canterbury named John Marlowe and his wife Katherine. Marlowe attended The King's School, Canterbury (where a house is now named after him) and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge on a scholarship and received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1584. In 1587 the university hesitated to award him his master's degree because of a rumour that he had converted to Roman Catholicism and intended to go to the English college at Rheims to prepare for the priesthood.

  • However, his degree was awarded on schedule when the Privy Council intervened on his behalf, commending him for his "faithful dealing" and "good service" to the Queen. The nature of Marlowe's service was not specified by the Council, but its letter to the Cambridge authorities has provoked much speculation, notably the theory that Marlowe was operating as a secret agent working for Sir Francis Walsingham's intelligence service. No direct evidence supports this theory, although the Council's letter is evidence that Marlowe had served the government in some capacity. Marlowe had a bad reputation among other writers. Government disliked him to. Christopher was eccussed accused of atheism and spying. On may 30, Marlowe was murdered.

  • The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, based on the German Faustbuch, was the first dramatised version of the Faust legend of a scholar's dealing with the devil. While versions of "The Devil's Pact" can be traced back to the 4th century, Marlowe deviates significantly by having his hero unable to "burn his books" or have his contract repudiated by a merciful god at the end of the play. Marlowe's protagonist is instead torn apart by demons and dragged off screaming to hell.

  • Literary CareerDido, Queen of Carthage was Marlowe's first drama. Marlowe's first play performed on stage in London stage was Tamburlaine (1587) about the conqueror Timur, who rises from shepherd to warrior. It is among the first English plays in blank verse, and, with Thomas Kyd's The Spanish Tragedy, generally is considered the beginning of the mature phase of the Elizabethan theatre. Tamburlaine was a success, and was followed with Tamburlaine Part II. The sequence of his plays is unknown; all deal with controversial themes.The Jew of Malta, about a Maltese Jew's barbarous revenge against the city authorities, has a prologue delivered by a character representing Machiavelli. The play is known for its unsympathetic portrayal of nearly all its characters.

  • Dr Faustus is a textual problem for scholars as it was highly edited (and possibly censored) and rewritten after Marlowe's death. Two versions of the play exist: the 1604 quarto, also known as the A text, and the 1616 quarto or B text. Many scholars believe that the A text is more representative of Marlowe's original because it contains irregular character names and idiosyncratic spelling: the hallmarks of a text that used the author's handwritten manuscript, or "foul papers", as a major source.

  • Marlowe also wrote poetry, including a, possibly, unfinished minor epic, Hero and Leander (published with a continuation by George Chapman in 1598), the popular lyric The Passionate Shepherd to His Love, and translations of Ovid's Amores and the first book of Lucan's Pharsalia.The three parts of Tamburlaine were published in 1590; all Marlowe's other works were published posthumously. In 1599, his translation of Ovid was banned and copies publicly burned as part of Archbishop Whitgift's crackdown on offensive material.

  • Philip SidneySir Philip Sidney (November 30, 1554 October 17, 1586) became one of the Elizabethan Age's most prominent figures. Famous in his day in England as a poet, courtier and soldier, he remains known as the author of Astrophel and Stella (1581, pub. 1591), The Defence of Poetry (or An Apology for Poetry, 1581, pub. 1595), and The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (1580, pub. 1590).

  • Born at Penshurst, Kent, he was the eldest son of Sir Henry Sidney and Lady Mary Dudley. Philip was educated at Shrewsbury School and Christ Church, Oxford. He was much travelled and highly learned. In 1572, he travelled to France He spent the next several years in mainland Europe, moving through Germany, Italy, Poland, and Austria. On these travels, he met a number of prominent European intellectuals and politicians.

  • Returning to England in 1575, Sidney met Penelope Devereaux, the future Penelope Blount; though much younger, she would inspire his famous sonnet sequence of the 1580s, Astrophel and Stella. Her father, the Earl of Essex, is said to have planned to marry his daughter to Sidney, but he died in 1576. In England, Sidney occupied himself with politics and art. He defended his father's administration of Ireland in a lengthy document. Sidney was knighted in 1583.

  • In 1583, he married Frances, teenage daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham. The next year, he met Giordano Bruno Sidney was a keenly militant Protestant. He had persuaded John Casimir to consider proposals for a united Protestant effort against the Roman Catholic Church and Spain. In 1585, his enthusiasm for the Protestant struggle was given a free rein when he was appointed governor of Flushing in the Netherlands. Later that year, he joined Sir John Norris in the Battle of Zutphen. During the siege, he was shot in the thigh and died twenty-six days later. Sidney's body was returned to London and interred in St. Paul's Cathedral on 16 February 1587.

  • Already during his own lifetime, but even more after his death, he had become for many English people the very epitome of a courtier: learned and politic, but at the same time generous, brave, and impulsive. Never more than a marginal figure in the politics of his time, he was memorialized as the flower of English manhood in Edmund Spenser's Astrophel, one of the greatest English Renaissance elegies. In Zutphen, the Netherlands a street has been named after Sir Philip.

  • Works Astrophel and Stella The first of the famous English sonnet sequences, Astrophil and Stella was probably composed in the early 1580s. The sonnets were well-circulated in manuscript before the first (apparently pirated) edition was printed in 1591; only in 1598 did an authorised edition reach the press. The sequence was a watershed in English Renaissance poetry. In it, Sidney partially nativised the key features of his Italian model, Petrarch: variation of emotion from poem to poem, with the attendant sense of an ongoing, but partly obscure, narrative; the philosophical trappings; the musings on the act of poetic creation itself. His experiments with rhyme scheme were no less notable; they served to free the English sonnet from the strict rhyming requirements of the Italian form

  • The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia The Arcadia, by far Sidney's most ambitious work, was as significant in its own way as his sonnets. This book is delicated to Mary Sidney, his sister. The work is a romance that combines pastoral elements with a mood derived from the Hellenistic model of Heliodorus. In the work, that is, a highly idealized version of the shepherd's life adjoins (not always naturally) with stories of jousts, political treachery, kidnappings, battles, and rapes. As published in the sixteenth century, the narrative follows the Greek model: stories are nested within each other, and different story-lines are intertwined.

  • The work enjoyed great popularity for more than a century after its publication. William Shakespeare borrowed from it for the Gloucester subplot of King Lear; parts of it were also dramatized by John Day and James Shirley. According to a widely-told story, King Charles I quoted lines from the book as he mounted the scaffold to be executed; Samuel Richardson named the heroine of his first novel after Sidney's Pamela. Arcadia exists in two significantly different versions. Sidney wrote an early version during a stay at Mary Herbert's house; this version is narrated in a straightforward, sequential manner. Later, Sidney began to revise the work on a more ambitious plan. He completed most of the first three books, but the project was unfinished at the time of his death. After a publication of the first three books (1590) sparked interest, the extant version was fleshed out with material from the first version (1593).

  • 'Defense of Poetry" (also known as A Defence of Poesie) Sidney wrote the Defence before 1583. It is generally believed that he was at least partly motivated by Stephen Gosson, a former playwright who dedicated his attack on the English stage, The School of Abuse, to Sidney in 1579, but Sidney primarily addresses more general objections to poetry, such as those of Plato. In his essay, Sidney integrates a number of classical and Italian precepts on fiction. The essence of his defense is that poetry, by combining the liveliness of history with the ethical focus of philosophy, is more effective than either history or philosophy in rousing its readers to virtue. The work also offers important comments on Edmund Spenser and the Elizabethan stage.

  • James ShirleyJames Shirley (or Sherley) (September 1596 October 1666) was an English dramatist.He belonged to the great period of English dramatic literature, but, in Lamb's words, he "claims a place among the worthies of this period, not so much for any transcendent genius in himself, as that he was the last of a great race, all of whom spoke nearly the same language and had a set of moral feelings and notions in common." His career of play writing extended from 1625 to the suppression of stage plays by Parliament in 1642.

  • George Chapman

    George Chapman (c. 1559 12 May 1634) was an English dramatist, translator, and poet. He was a classical scholar, and his work shows the influence of Stoicism. Chapman has been identified as the Rival Poet of Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Minto, and as an anticipator of the Metaphysical Poets. Chapman is best remembered for his translations of Homer's Iliad, Odyssey, and Batrachomyomachia.

  • John Fletcher

    John Fletcher (1579 1625) was a Jacobean playwright. Following William Shakespeare as house playwright for the King's Men, he was among the most prolific and influential dramatists of his day; both during his lifetime and in the early Restoration, his fame rivaled Shakespeare's. Though his reputation has been eclipsed since, Fletcher remains an important transitional figure between the Elizabethan popular tradition and the popular drama of the Restoration.

  • Thomas Middleton

    Thomas Middleton (18 April 1580 1627) was an English Jacobean playwright and poet. Middleton stands with John Fletcher and Ben Jonson as among the most successful and prolific of playwrights who wrote their best plays during the Jacobean period. He was one of the few Renaissance dramatists to achieve equal success in comedy and tragedy. Also a prolific writer of masques and pageants, he remains one of the most noteworthy and distinctive of Jacobean dramatists.