George Sandys: Travel, Colonialism, and Tolerance in the Seventeenth Century

George Sandys: Travel, Colonialism, and Tolerance in the Seventeenth Century

George Sandys: Travel, Colonialism, and Tolerance in the Seventeenth Century

George Sandys: Travel, Colonialism, and Tolerance in the Seventeenth Century

Synopsis

The poet George Sandys is one of the most interesting figures of the Renaissance period, his life and career encompassing a number of varied aspects. As a colonialist leader in Virginia he and his colleagues pursued a lenient policy towards the Indians which nearly cost the colony its existence. Returning to England, and settling at Great Tew along with other poets such as William Chillingworth and Lord Falkland, he won limited favour at the Caroline court; although he was loyal to the king, and adopted a richly Laudian style for his religious verse, he was implacably opposed to the divisive and confrontational policies of the Laudian church, and became an increasingly outspoken critic of absolutist government. His last work, a translation of a Latin religious play by Hugo Grotius, was the first in a series of literary attacks by moderate Royalists on Archbishop Laud.This book, the first recent examination of his life and work, sheds new light both on an unjustly neglected figure, and on the literature of religious and political moderation prior to the Civil War.JAMES ELLISON is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Strathclyde.

Excerpt

This book is an expanded version ofa D.Phil. thesis at Oxford University which I began in 1978 and completed in 1998. I have been extremely fortunate in the help and encouragement I have received along the way. John Rathmell, Richard Luckett, and Molly Mahood originally stimulated an interest in this area; John Carey subsequently supervised the thesis at Oxford in the late seventies and welcomed me back like the Prodigal Son when I decided to finish it in the mid-1990s: without his help and encouragement it would never have seen the light of day. My parents, Roger and Stella Ellison, provided support and sympathy, as did Karina Williamson. My mother also read over the manuscript and corrected my English at various points. I owe a significant debt to Liz Hare of the Office of Lifelong Learning at Edinburgh University who first prompted me to dust off some yellowing files and complete the work; the D.Phil. examiners, Graham Parry and Tony Nuttall, provided many helpful improvements and corrections, and Graham Parry in his capacity as General Editor for Boydell & Brewer's Studies in Renaissance Literature has continued to offer the benefit of his expertise. Alison Thorne introduced me to the world of New Historicism. the reader for Boydell provided invaluable, detailed assistance in navigating through the heated historical debates on religion and politics prior to the Civil War period.

Much of the recent research for the book has been done at the National Library of Scotland and the Special Collections departments of Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities: I have received unfailingly prompt and courteous assistance from them, as from the staff of Duke Humfrey's Library at the Bodleian, who also gave me a warm welcome back after a fifteen-year interval. Two scholarly debts deserve special recognition. I have relied extensively on the work of R. B. Davis throughout this study; more recently, Theodore K. Rabb's study of Sir Edwin Sandys has added very considerably to our understanding ofa complex and opaque personality whose involvement in literary circles of the period deserves greater recognition.

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