DRAYTON, Michael

DRAYTON, Michael
(c. 1563-1631)
Michael Drayton's contemporaries set him in company with Edmund Spen­ser* and Philip Sidney* for his contributions to the creation of an English lit­erature. Probably born in Hartshill, Warwickshire, of yeoman stock, Drayton is thought to have studied under a tutor and may have completed his education at the Inns of Court. He was in the service of the Gooderes of Polesworth and Lucy Harington, countess of Bedford. His literary career was framed with re­ligious writings, since his first printed work was The Harmony of the Church and his final publication was Divine Poems (1630), a compilation of verse from throughout his career that included Moses His Miracles (1604) and Noah's Flood.
Drayton is more widely known for his poetry, especially Poly-Olbion, the first part published in 1612 and the second in 1621-22. Drayton drew extensively from William Camden's* Britannia and other chronicles as well as Arthurian romance, John Wilson's English Martyrologie, Nicholas Rosacarrock's manu­script lives of British saints, William Harrison's* Description of Britaine, and Christopher Saxton's maps of Great Britain to construct thirty songs recording local history, mythology, culture, recreation, and traditions. Drayton's other ex­tant works run to five volumes in their modern edition and include numerous odes and elegies as well as Idea, the Shepheardes Garland; Ideas Mirrour, and England's Heroicall Epistles, featuring versions of Rosamund and King Henry II, The Barons Warres, King John and Matilda, and Queen Isabella and Mor­timer. While none of his drama survives, Philip Henslowe's* Diary indicates that Drayton collaborated with Henry Chettle, Thomas Dekker,* Richard Hath­away, Thomas Middleton,* Anthony Munday, Wentworth Smith, and Robert Wilson from 1597 to 1602 as a playwright for the Lord Admiral's Men. Law­suits suggest that Drayton worked with the Children of the King's Revels from 1607 to 1608, possibly as a manager or as one of many collaborating play­wrights. Throughout his career, Drayton relied upon a number of patrons. Anne Good-eres provided the model for "Idea," the beloved woman in Idea, the Shepheardes Garland, and Lucy, countess of Bedford, offered inspiration for Drayton's ver­sion of Queen Matilda in the Heroicall Epistles. Other dedicatees of his works included Walter Aston; Robert Dudley; Lady Jane Devereux; Mary Sidney,* countess of Pembroke; and Henry, Prince of Wales.
B. Newdigate, Michael Drayton and His Circle, 1961.
Karen Nelson

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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