Spenser's Life

Willy Maley

in The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199227365
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Spenser's Life

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



This article details the life of Spenser gleaned from three sources: his Irish letters, his poetry and prose, and the testimony of contemporaries. Spenser was born in London, in ‘East Smithfield near the Tower’, if we believe one early commentator. The likeliest date of birth is 1552, based on evidence of activities in 1569. The year 1569 is when Spenser first materializes in several guises: pupil at Merchant Taylors' School for boys, fresher at Cambridge, published translator, and courier in France. The year 1579 was especially auspicious. On 27 October 1579 Spenser married ‘Machabyas Chylde’ at St Margaret's Church, Westminster. On 6 November, Lord Justice Pelham proclaimed at Limerick that every English horseman under his command should wear red crosses, front and back, ‘either of Silke or Cloth’. Coming so close to Spenser's embarking on The Faerie Queene this appears fortuitous. On 5 December, The Shepheardes Calender was entered in the Stationers' Register.

Keywords: poets; Edmund Spenser; biography; translator; courier; The Shepheardes Calender

Article.  8605 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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