Edmund Spenser

(3262 words)
  • Matthew Woodcock (University of East Anglia)

In his dedication to the 1596 edition of The Faerie Queene Edmund Spenser addresses Queen Elizabeth, his ultimate implied reader, claiming that in writing his great poem for her as well as about her he might “live with the eternitie of her fame”. Such a statement now seems prescient, given Spenser's modern canonical status as one of the greatest Elizabethan poets. But the idea that Spenser and Elizabeth should forever be associated by the poet's mythopoeic fashioning obscures Spenser's modest origins and the fact that much of his life was one of service.

An imprecise chronological allusion in sonnet 60 of his sequence Amoretti (published 1595) allows us to date Spenser's birth to between 1552 and 1554. In <…

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Woodcock, Matthew. "Edmund Spenser". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 May 2004
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=4171, accessed 30 September 2016.]

Articles on Spenser's works

  1. Amoretti
  2. Colin Clouts Come Home Againe
  3. Epithalamion
  4. Prothalamion
  5. Shepheardes Calender
  6. The Faerie Queene
  7. The Fowre Hymnes
  8. View of the Present State of Ireland

Related Groups

  1. Renaissance and Humanism
  2. The Sonnet Tradition