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Fisher, Payne


Subject Literature » Renaissance Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405194495.2012.x


Payne Fisher (1616–93) was one of the mid-seventeenth century's tragicomic figures, a poet who struggled to negotiate turbulent times, whose limited finances and meagre talents combined to produce an oeuvre more noticeable for its volume than its quality, and who used print in novel ways in order to grub for money and patronage. Born in 1616, the son of a Dorset gentleman, Fisher was educated at St Paul's School, Oxford, and Cambridge, but became a professional soldier, first on the Continent, then in the Bishops' Wars in England, and also in Ireland. During the Civil War he fought for Charles I, at least until the battle of Marston Moor, after which he suffered imprisonment by Parliamentarians, defected to their cause, and served once again in Ireland. After 1648, Fisher devoted himself almost entirely to literature, and, having accommodated himself to the Republic, became poet laureate to both Oliver and Richard Cromwell. After the Restoration, he lived entirely by his pen, which ensured protracted periods in debtors' prison, before his death in 1693. Fisher's life and poetry are inseparable. The bulk of his verse relates directly to the events he witnessed and to the patrons he courted, and provides invaluable biographical evidence. The earliest poems, such as ‘The cryes of Ulster’, date from Ireland in the early 1640s, while others were penned on campaign with the Royalist ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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