martes, 1 de octubre de 2013
From The Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble:
SPENSER, Edmund (c. 1552-99), the elder son of John Spenser, who was probably related to the Spencers of Althorp, and was described as a journeyman in the art of cloth-making. Edmund Spenser was probably bonr in East Smithfield, London, and was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, under Mulcaster, and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. In 1569, while still at Cambridge, he contributed a number of 'Visions' and sonnets, from Petrarch and du Bellay, to van der Noodt's Theatre for Worldlings. To the 'greener times' of his youth belong also the 'Hymne in Honour of Love' and that of 'Beautie' (not published until 1596), which reflect his study of Neoplatonism. After possibly spending some time in the north, he became secretary to John Young, bishop of Rochester, in 1578, and in 1579, through his college friend G. Harvey, obtained a place in Leicester's household. There he became acquainted with Sir Philip Sidney, to whom he dedicated his Shepheardes Calender (1579). He probably married Machabyas Chylde in the same year, and also began to write The Faerie Queene. In 1580 he was appointed secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton, then going to Ireland as lord deputy. In 1588 or 1589 he became one of the 'undertakers' for the settlement of Munster, and acquired Kilcolman Castle in Co. Cork. Here he settled and occupied himself with literary work, writing his elegy 'Astrophel', on Sidney, and preparing 'The Faerie Queene' for the press. The first three books of it were entrusted to the publisher during his visit to London in 1589. He returned reluctantly to Kilcolman, which he liked to regard as a place of exile, in 1591, recording his visit to London and return in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe (printed 1595). The success of The Faerie Queene led the publisher, Ponsonby, to issue his minor verse and juvenilia, in part rewritten, as Complaints, Containing Sundrie Small Poemes of the Worlds Vanitie (1591). This volume included 'The Ruines of Time', which was a further elegy on Sidney, dedicated to Sidney's sister, the countess of Pembroke, 'Mother Hubberds Tale', Muiopotmos, 'The Tears of the Muses', and 'Virgils Gnat'. Also in 1591 Daphnaïda was published, an elegy on Douglas Howard, the daughter of Lord Byndon and wife of sir A. Gorges. In 1594 he married Elizabeth Boyle, whom he had wooed in his Amoretti, and celebrated the marriage in his superb Epithalamion: the works were printed together in 1595. He published Books IV-VI of The Faerie Queene and his Fowre Hymnes in 1596, being in London for the purpose at the house of his friend the earl of Essex, where he wrote his Prothalamion and also his well-informed though propagandist View of the Present State of Ireland. He returned to Ireland, depressed both in mind and health, in 1596 or 1597. His castle of Kilcolman was burnt in October 1598, in a sudden insurrection of the natives, cchiefly O'Neills, under the earl fo Desmond; he was compelled to flee to Cork with his wife and three children. We do not know what works, if any, were lost at Kilcolman, but Pononby in 1591 had mentioned other works by Spenser which are not now extant, and in The Shepheardes Calender reference is made to his discourse of the 'English Poet'. He died in London in distress, if not actual destitution, at a lodging in King Street, Westminster. His funeral expenses were borne by the earl of Essex, and he was buried near his favourite Chaucer in Westminster Abbey. His monument, set up some 20 years later by Lady Anne Clifford, describes him as 'THE PRINCE OF POETS IN HIS TYME': there have been few later periods in which he has not been admired, and the poetry of both Milton and Keats had its origins in the reading of Spenser.
See the Variorum edition of his works, with a biography and full critical commentary, ed. E. Greenlaw, C. G. Osgood, F. M. Padelford, et al. (10 vols, 1932-57).