Letters (1580)

Joseph Campana

in The Oxford Handbook of Edmund Spenser

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Letters (1580)

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



In 1580, five letters exchanged between Gabriel Harvey and Edmund Spenser appeared in a slender quarto volume from the publisher H. Bynneman. This article attempts to trace, if not untangle, the politics and erotics of epistolarity, friendship, and verse in these pivotal writings, which allow us to consider a Spenser whose first major work, The Shepheardes Calender, had just sailed into the world of print and whose defining opus, The Faerie Queene, was underway. It attempts to contextualize early modern letters and early modern friendship with reference to the formal properties of the former and the erotic properties of the latter, both of which have garnered much attention from historians of early modern sexuality. Friendship and epistolarity both played a central role not only in the highly public nature of intimacy in early modernity, but also in the struggle to articulate the function of literary writing at a moment when what it meant to be English and what it meant to be an author were both hotly contested. This contestation is the primary subject of the letters.

Keywords: Gabriel Harvey; letters; freidnship; epistolarity; English; author

Article.  9535 words. 

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

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