Authors: Edmund Spenser


"Edmund Spenser," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Entry at Poetry Foundation



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Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) was a courtier and a poet. Spenser is one of the major canonical English authors. He is especially known for his Faerie Queene, Shepheardes Calendar, Colin Clouts Come Home Againe, and Epithalamion. Spenser was greatley admired by Milton and by succeeding generations of poets.

Spenser was educated at Cambridge University. He was fluent in a number of languages. He published the Shepheardes Calender in 1579. The calendar contains twelve allegorical woodcuts to accompany each of the poems.

Woodcut to accompany October.

Spenser's The Faerie Queene was published in 1590. It celebrates Queen Elizabeth I. FQ is a masterpiece. Deeply influenced by Geoffrey Chacuer, Spenser adopted many of the conventions of Continetal epic poetry. He invented a new stanza for his epic, called the Spenserian stanza. It consists of nine lines rhyming ababbcbcc. The first eight are in iambic pentameter, and the last is an alexandrine (six iambs).