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Shakespeare Studies: Edmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser (1552-1599)

Edmund SpenserEnglish poet. His major work is the allegorical epic The Faerie Queene, of which six books survive (three published in 1590 and three in 1596). Other books include The Shepheard's Calendar (1579), Astrophel(1586), the love sonnets Amoretti, and the marriage poem Epithalamion (1595).

Born in London, Spenser was the son of a Lancashire clothmaker. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, which was then a grammar school, and in 1568 he began his studies at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. In 1580 he became secretary to Lord Grey de Wilton, Lord Deputy in Ireland and at Kilcolman Castle completed the first three books of The Faerie Queene. In 1598 the castle was burned down by rebels, and Spenser and his family narrowly escaped. His attitude towards the Irish problem, expressed in both book five of the Faerie Queene and his View of the Present State of Ireland was that merciless oppression was the only solution. He died in London, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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