The Arthur of the English Poets

By Howard Maynadier | Go to book overview
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BEFORE Spenser, by his free treatment of the old stories, had made clear that belief in the reality of Arthur with his court of wonders was past, a poet of much less note had expressed similar scepticism. This was William Warner, of whom we know that he was a little younger than Spenser; that he was born in London and educated at Oxford; and that he died in 1609.1 His principal work was Albion's England, the contents of which are set forth in the title: Albion's England: A Continued Historie of the same Kingdome, from the Originals of the First Inhabitants Thereof: and Most the Chiefe Alterations and Accidents there Hapning: unto and in, the Happie Raigne of our now most Gracious Soveraigne Queene Elizabeth. With a Varietie of Inventive and Historical Intermixtures. First Penned and Published by William Warner: and now Revised, and Newly Inlarged by the same Author. This metrical history was published in 1586, in which year it was seized, for reasons now unknown and unaccountable, and its sale forbidden, by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury.2 The publication seems soon to have been permitted, for the book went through a fifth edition before its author's death.

G. Saintsbury, Elizabethan Literature, London, 1887, pp. 132-134.


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