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Montagu, Walter


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Walter Montagu (1603–77) was born in London, the second son of Henry Montagu, first earl of Manchester. He is best known for his play The shepheards paradise , performed by Queen Henrietta Maria and a cast of courtier women in 1633; he was also a translator and essayist. However, he was not primarily a writer: his career encompassed the roles of spy, diplomat, inveterate political conspirator, art collector, and French abbé. Despite owning a copy of the Second Folio of Shakespeare's plays, the catalogue of folio works in his library compiled after his death suggests that his interests lay rather in science, history, and philosophy than in literature. A notable linguist, he was employed as a go-between in the 1624 negotiations for the marriage of Prince Charles and Henrietta Maria, when he began important relationships both with the latter and with her sister-in-law Anne of Austria that lasted for the rest of their lives. As favourite of George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, he was involved in clandestine activities against the French government which continued, in collaboration with Henrietta Maria amongst others, into the period when he was writing The shepheards paradise , following which he was exiled by Charles I in 1633. Montagu's homecoming in 1635 was temporary: he left again the same year after dramatically announcing his conversion to Roman Catholicism; another spell in ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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