Spenser and Sixteenth‐Century Poetics

Elizabeth Heale

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 and Sixteenth‐Century Poetics

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


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Attacks on English poetry as unlearned and immoral increased in the 1570s. Most worrying may have been George Gascoigne's experience. Gascoigne's collection of verse, A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres (1573), seems to have provoked criticism and even censorship. When he reissued the poems in a reformed edition as The Posies in 1575, he prefaced it with an apologetic epistle, ‘To the reverende Divines’, members of the Court of High Commission who had the power of censorship and who had, apparently ‘thought requysite that all ydle Bookes or wanton Pamphlettes shoulde bee forbidden’. Despite Gascoigne's apology, copies of The Posies were recalled in 1576. This article suggests that Gascoigne and the image of Philomele figure significantly in Spenser's imagination throughout his career.

Keywords: English poetry; George Gascoigne; censorship; Philomele; imagination

Article.  7226 words. 

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

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