Thomas Lodge (1558-1625) English writer and his famous works

Thomas Lodge (1558-1625) was an English writer, poet, playwright, and pamphleteer. The son of  Sir Thomas Lodge, lord mayor of London, he was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School, London, and Trinity College, Oxford. He was a student of Lincoln’s Inn in 1578.  and seems to have converted to Roman Catholicism c.1580. The law students of the inns of Court during the Elizabethan Age were a leading element of the literary public and others besides Lodge found these law colleges a nursery for literary rather than legal talents. During the next twenty years, he practiced all kinds of writing which were popular in those days.

In 1579-80 he published an anonymous Defence of Poetry, Music and Stage Plays, a reply to Stephen Gosson’s attack on drama in School of Abuse(1580), and in 1584 An Alarum against Usurers (dedicated to Philip Sidney), depicting the dangers that moneylenders present to young spendthrifts.

Appended to it was a prose romance, Forbonius and Prisceria. Scilla’s Metamorphosis, an Ovidian verse fable, was published in 1589. In 1585 and 1586 Lodge may have sailed on a privateering expedition to the Terceras and the Canaries, and in 1591-3 to South America with the adventurer Thomas Cavendish (1560-92). On the earlier voyage, he said he wrote his best-known romance, Rosalynde: Euphue Golden Legacie(1590), ‘hatched in the storms of the ocean, and feathered in the surges of many perilous seas’. Shakespeare was influenced by this and used the story for As You Like It. After four more prose romances, he published Phillis: Honoured with Pastoral Sonnets, Elegies, and Amorous Delights (1593), a sonnet sequence, including many poems adapted from Italian and French models, to which was appended “The Complaint of Elstred’, the story of King Locrine’s unhappy mistress. He wroe The Life and Death of William Longbeard  in 1593.

His play The Wounds of Civil War (1594), about Marius and Sulla, had been performed by the Lord Admiral’s Men; he also wrote A Looking Glass for London and England (1594), in collaboration with Robert Greene. No other plays by him are known. A Fig for Momus (1595) was a miscellaneous collection of satirical poems, including epistles, addressed to Samuel Daniel and Michael Drayton. Wit’s Misery, and the World’s Madness: Discovering the Devils Incarnate of this Age appeared in 1596, as did a remarkable romance, A Margarite of America, written during the second voyage, under Cavendish, while they were near the Magellan Straits.

Lodge left England in 1597 to study medicine at Avignon; he was incorporated MD at Oxford in 1602, and in the next year published A Treatise of the Plague. He completed two major works of translation: the works of Josephus (1602), which was frequently reprinted, and of Lucius Annaeus Seneca (1614). His last work was a translation of the commentary on Du Bartas (1621) by the French humanist Simon Goulart (1543–1628).

Lodge is now mainly remembered for Rosalynde and for the lyrics scattered throughout his romances. His works were edited in four volumes by Edmund Gosse (1883).

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