Thomas Overbury

(1581—1613) courtier and author

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference


opposed the marriage of his patron Robert Carr (afterwards earl of Somerset) with the divorced countess of Essex, and on the pretext of his refusal of diplomatic employment was sent to the Tower, where he was slowly poisoned by the agents of Lady Essex. Four of these were hanged; Somerset and his wife were convicted and pardoned. The prosecution was conducted by F. Bacon. Overbury is chiefly remembered for his Theophrastian ‘Characters’ which appeared with the second edition of his poem A Wife (1st edn 1614). Later editions added new characters, some by J. Webster and some by Dekker. Earle responded to their harsh and anti‐scholastic tone in his own Microcosmographie. (See character‐writing.)

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries