Edmund Spenser

BookEdmund Spenser

Edmund Spenser

Writers and Their Work


October 1st, 1995

Access Token




Edmund Spenser (1554-1599) was the greatest Elizabethan poet, whose Shepheardes Calendar (1579) inaugurated a revolution in English poetry, and whose unfinished Faerie Queene (1590-96) was the longest and most accomplished poem written in the sixteenth century. Readers have always been immediately attracted by the fluid grace of is language, and by the magical world of dwarfs, hermits, knights and dragons evoked in The Faerie Queene, but have often been bewildered and overawed by the bulk and complexity of his writing. In this approachable and informative book, Colin Burrow clarifies the genres and conventions of work in Spenser’s poem. He explores the poet’s taste for archaism and allegory, and the native of epic and of heroism in The Faerie Queene. He presents Spenser as a ‘Renaissance’ poet, who is drawn at once to images of vital rebirth and to images of mortal frailty. In clear, jargon-free prose he explores Spenser’s equivocal relationship with his Queen and with the Irish landscape in which he spent his mature years. Spenser emerges from this book a less orthodox and harmonious poet that he is often thought to be, but as a complex, thoughtful and attractive writer.


Author Information

Colin Burrow is Fellow, Tutor and College Lecturer in English at Gonville Caius College, Cambridge from which he graduated with a double starred first. Dr Burrow has taught and written extensively on Renaissance literature including contributions to: Epic Romance: Homer to Milton (Oxford, 1993), The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature and The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism in the Renaissance.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title2
Title Page4
Biographical Outline10
Note on the Text14
1 The Biographical Record16
2 A Renaissance Poet26
3 Dynastic Epic42
4 Allegorical Epic58
5 Heroes and Villains and Things in Between70
6 Wild Men and Wild Places87
7 Love and Empire95
Appendix. The Faerie Queene: Summary116
Select Bibliography124