The Complete Poems of John Skelton, Laureate

The Complete Poems of John Skelton, Laureate

The Complete Poems of John Skelton, Laureate

The Complete Poems of John Skelton, Laureate

Excerpt

Of Skelton's career we know comparatively little; of his personal appearance nothing is known. lthough William Bulleinrepresents him as sitting "in the corner of a pillar, with a frosty bitten face, frowning" and "writing many a sharp distichon," his reference cannot be taken as anything more than a hint at an imaginary portrait. The date of Skelton's birth has been fixed approximately at 1460. Tradition asserts that he was descended from the Skeltons of Cumberland, although Norfolk seems to have been his native county. Dyce thinks it probable that the poet was the "one Scheklton" who, according to Cole, became M.A. at Cambridge in 1484. At any rate, we know that he was awarded the degree of laureate by the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, honoured by University of Louvain, and, some years after 1494, was chosen as tutor to the young Prince Henry, who subsequently became Henry VIII. Needless to say, his reputation as a scholar, as well as his personal character, must have been highly esteemed at that time to be thought to merit such an appointment -- although Miss Agnes Strickland, in her Lives of the Queens of England, considers that "the corruption imparted by this ribald and illliving wretch [i.e. Skelton] laid the foundation of his royal pupil's grossest crimes!" But, as Dyce remarks, "when ladies attempt to write history, they sometimes say odd things." It was about this time, when Prince Henry was nine years old, that Erasmus visited England and paid his . . .

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