He benefitted from the patronage of Robert Nowell since 1569, he started his education in Merchant Taylor School, where he attained a Bachelor’s degree in 1572. After four years, he achieved the Master’s degree at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge (Jokinen, A., 2006:1).
With the satisfaction of having lived a long politically and literarily productive life, Spenser died in January, 13th, 1599, in London, being buried at Westminister Abbey (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1994:1,4)
Who Is Poets Poet
His connections with Politics and its influence
In 1580, Spenser was named secretary to Lord Arthur Grey of Wilton, the lord-deputy of Ireland. He was asked to help in the brutal and blood-spattered English settlements in Ireland, where he spent the next two years (Zurcher, A., 2008:2).
Such was Spenser’s admiration for Lord Grey, that Arthegal – the personification of justice in the Faerie Queene – is his evident embodiment. Spenser wholeheartedly approved of Grey’s cruel political measures in Ireland, as the aim justifies the means. The poet considered them essential for the continuance of English control and the Protestant religion. The Lord’s repulsive methods promoted a discord with the queen’s distinctive retarding manner, which resulted in Grey’s recall in 1582. From that moment, Spenser stepped down from his appointment, yet remained in the public service.
Due to Spenser’s experiences in Ireland, he wrote in 1596 A view of the Present State of Ireland (published posthumously in 1633), in which the Irish plight is described and possible solutions are put forward (Jokinen, A., 2006:2,3).
Spenser’s relationship with Elizabeth I
It is an undoubted fact that Edmund Spenser felt an extreme fascination for England’s ruler of those times: Queen Elizabeth I. It was due to Spenser’s veneration that his extremely important masterpiece The Faerie Queene was written and therefore dedicated to Elizabeth I. It was considered the most tremendous compliment ever offered to any woman in a poem.
In view of Elizabeth’s brilliant policies about government and religion, Spenser dared to compare her with the Virgin Mary, contrasting both queens: of Heaven and of Earth; and evoking Elizabeth’s power, humility and glorious government. (Sinclair, 1999:2).
By the 1580s, the young artist had already written hundreds of poems although he did not publish them. His first masterpiece was called “The Shepherd’s Calendar” (1579), which importance relied on the usage of a variety of poetic forms in order to enrich the vocabulary of English poetry (Anonymous, 2006: 1).
Edmund Spenser’s philosophical style of writing is a blend of ancient and contemporary poets and philosophers. He combines Platonism using the ideas of love on human and divine levels with the moral reflection of life of Aristotelianism. (Anonymous, 2006:2).
The period the poet spent at the University of Cambridge was highly beneficial, as it provided him the basis for his writing and his personal style. After being influenced by Virgil, Ludovico Ariosto and Torquato Tasso, Spenser started his masterpiece The Faerie Queene; and being in contact with the Italian and the French pastoral poetry led him to produce “The Shepherd’s Calendar”. The influence of Petrarch was of the utmost importance for writing Epithalamion and Amoretti (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1994:2).
Notwithstanding, the most influential people in Spenser’s literature were the “Areopagus”, a literary and intellectual group of gentlemen including Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Edward Dyer, Daniel Rogers, and Thomas Drant, who would gather in order to discuss law, philosophy and poetry (Zurcher, 2008:2).
Spenser and other Elizabethan poets.
Due to his peculiar writing style, which was based on the usage of archaic diction, Spenser is considered an equal among William Shakespeare, Sir Philip Sidney and John Milton.