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Sharing Secrets “Entombed in Your Heart”: <i>Thomas Whythorne's “Good Friend” and the Story of His Life (ca. 1569–76)</i>

Meredith Anne Skura

in Tudor Autobiography

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780226761879
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226761886 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226761886.003.0005
Sharing Secrets “Entombed in Your Heart”: Thomas Whythorne's “Good Friend” and the Story of His Life (ca. 1569–76)

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Thomas Whythorne's “book of songs and sonnets” was completed in the mid-1570s although not published until 1961 Whythorne's “songs and sonnets” has been singled out as the first modern autobiography. Its ninety folio leaves of manuscript record more than two hundred of Whythorne's “songs” and frame them with an account of his life to explain “the cause why I wrote them” and “my secret meaning in divers of them.” This chapter begins with a discussion of the introductory pages of Whythorne's text and what they suggest about the role that Whythorne's friend played during the manuscript's original occasion, or occasions. It then considers the two conventional schema that Whythorne used to organize his text—the poetic miscellany and the seasonal cycle—arguing that the narrative finally evolves independently of both, at times even contradicting or eluding them entirely. The last section discusses several representative passages about Whythorne's struggle with his emotions, in which his own language eludes his controlling schematic presentation and, as in the case of John Bale, conveys perhaps more of his “secrets” than he intended.

Keywords: Thomas Whythorne; songs; sonnets; autobiography; manuscript; poetic miscellany; seasonal cycle

Chapter.  11556 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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