George Gascoigne (1535- 1577); Biography and famous works

George Gascoigne (1535- 1577) was an English poet and soldier. He came from a prominent Bedfordshire family. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. After completing his study. he entered Gray’s Inn in 1555, spending more than ten years there, and was at court. In 1561, his marriage to the already-married Elizabeth Boyes, mother of the poet Nicholas Breton, initiated a series of legal and financial difficulties, culminating in a spell in debtors’ prison in Bedford in 1570. Between 1572 and 1574 he was a soldier in the Netherlands, spending four months as a prisoner of the Spanish.

His poems and plays were published during his absence, supposedly without his authority, as A Hundred Sun- dry Flowers bound up in one small Poesie(1573); on his return, he brought out a corrected and augmented edition under the title of The Posies of George Gascoigne (1575). In the last two years of his life, he achieved some success as a court poet.

Many of Gascoigne’s works were contained in The Posies: a variety of secular and devotional verse, including “The Delectable History of Dan Bartholmew of Bath’; a verse account of his adventures in the Netherlands, “The Fruits of War’, dedicated to Lord Grey de Wilton; two plays written for performance at Gray’s Inn in 1566, Supposes, a prose comedy based on Ariosto’s I suppositi, and Jocasta, a blank verse tragedy purportedly based on Euripides, but actually translated from Lodovico Dolce; a strange Chaucerian novella of sexual intrigue, The Adventures of Master F.J.; and Certain Notes of Instruction Concerning the Making of Verse or Rhyme in English, a pithy and pioneering account of English versification. In 1575 he had a share in devising the masques, published in the next year as The Princely Pleasures at the Courte at Kenelworth, which celebrated the queen’s visit to the Earl of Leicester.

Also read; Thomas Nashe (1567-1601); Biography and famous works

Gascoigne’s other works include The Glass of Government: A Tragical Comedy (1575), The Drum of Dooms Day (1576), and The Steel Glass: A Satire (1576). Gascoigne had been involved in the entertainments put on for Elizabeth I by the earl of Leicester at Kenilworth in July 1575. On 1 January 1576 Gascoigne presented her with an illustrated autograph manuscript of his translations into Latin, Italian, and French of the anonymous Tale of Hemetes the Heremyte, which had been part of the royal entertainments at Woodstock in September 1575.

He also translated Jacques du Fouilloux’s La Venerie (1561) into English as The Noble Arte of Venerie or Hunting (1575) which was printed together with George Turberville’s The Book of Falconrie or Hawking and is thus sometimes misattributed to Turberville though in fact, it was a work by Gascoigne. Shakespeare may have used Supposes as a source for part of The Taming of the Shrew. Gascoigne died of an illness near Stamford.

Also read; Thomas De Quincey(1785-1859); biography and famous works