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Drayton, Michael


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Though the poet and dramatist Michael Drayton (1563–1631) lived into the reign of Charles I and produced his most significant work under King James, he remains inextricably associated with the values and preoccupations of the Elizabethan era. Even in his lifetime, both his contemporaries and Drayton himself were inclined to regard him as a throwback to an earlier and more high-minded era. Yet his sober morality can be understood, at least in part, as a mannered poetic pose, and this quintessential Elizabethan was a keen observer and satirist of early Stuart politics and social values. Drayton was born within a year and a few miles of William Shakespeare, in the village of Hartshill, Warwickshire, in 1563. Like Shakespeare, Drayton made his way to London in his mid-twenties to seek a literary career as both poet and playwright. Yet unlike his close contemporary, who seems to have observed a sharp division between the literary and dramatic world of the capital and the domestic sphere of Stratford-upon-Avon, Drayton remained deeply attached to the region of his birth, finding both his poetic inspiration and his most significant patrons there. Indeed, he would seem rather more deserving than Shakespeare of the title of ‘bard of Avon’: Drayton modelled his ideal of the laureate poet in large part on the semi-mythic figure of the Welsh bard, and in his greatest poem, Poly-olbion (1612), ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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