John Lyly and Early Modern Authorship: an interview with Andy Kesson

Last week saw the launch of Andy Kesson’s brilliant new book John Lyly and Early Modern Authorship, which makes an eloquent and powerful case for both the quality of Lyly’s work and its importance to early modern literature as we understand it. It is full of fascinating insights into literary and print culture and commerce … Continue reading John Lyly and Early Modern Authorship: an interview with Andy Kesson

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Sir Thomas Smith and covetousness in history

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about Sir Thomas Smith, late in life and in poor health, complaining about how difficult it was to work for Elizabeth I. (I also quoted his trenchant observation on the implications of the Ridolfi plot here.) Smith is a fascinating example of those apparently minor figures in Tudor … Continue reading Sir Thomas Smith and covetousness in history

Thomas Kyd: fragments of a life

The life and work of Thomas Kyd offer a perfect example of the problems posed by the erosion of evidence over time – see my post here – since what little we do know seems wholly arbitrary in its survival, yet also hints at the enormity of what we have lost. Kyd, a prosperous scrivener’s … Continue reading Thomas Kyd: fragments of a life

Thomas Cobham: a life of recklessness and reprieve

I didn't know a great deal about Thomas Cobham when I came across his name in the Middlesex Session Rolls, where he is recorded as one of two men standing surety for a young Walter Ralegh on December 19, 1577, after the latter's servants had been arrested for a drunken assault on the nightwatch in … Continue reading Thomas Cobham: a life of recklessness and reprieve

The gains doth seldom quit the charge: Henry Noel at the court of Elizabeth I

This is the third in my series of posts on a disparate group of courtiers in the 1570s and 1580s – for the purposes of this blog, I am calling them the Lost Elizabethans – who I first encountered researching The Favourite. Although well known in their day – I suspect both Noel, the subject … Continue reading The gains doth seldom quit the charge: Henry Noel at the court of Elizabeth I

Dreams of escape – George Gifford: courtier, con-man, conspirator

Despite the notoriety which still clouds men like Anthony Babington, executed in 1586 for plotting to assassinate Elizabeth I, history's selective memory has been kind in overlooking the dubious career of other men who flirted with regicide in the same period. Indeed, one man, despite never having attempted the act, seems to have been almost … Continue reading Dreams of escape – George Gifford: courtier, con-man, conspirator

Haste, post haste: George Gascoigne and friends

Sometime in London in the autumn of 1577, Gabriel Harvey, the son of a Saffron Waldon ropemaker and a self-consciously brilliant young Cambridge academic, opened up his copy of The Steele Glas, and turned to one of the volume’s three commendatory poems. It was signed: “Walter Rawely of the Middle Temple”. A compulsive – indeed, … Continue reading Haste, post haste: George Gascoigne and friends