John Skelton

John Skelton, 1460–1529, English poet and humanist. Tutor to Prince Henry (later Henry VIII), he later (c.1502) became rector of Diss, Norfolk. In 1512 he began to call himself royal orator, a position that may have been conferred by Henry VIII requiring that Skelton carry on some royal correspondence and write occasional official poems. He wrote a long allegorical poem, The Garland of Laurel (1523), but is remembered for his scathing and often obscene satires on the court, the clergy, and Cardinal Wolsey—The Bowge of Court (1499), Speak, Parrot (1521), Colin Clout (1522), and Why Come Ye Not to Court? (c.1522)—and the mock dirge "Philip Sparrow." Many of his works are written in verse forms he himself devised, called Skeltonics. They consist of short lines and insistent rhymes, sometimes repeated through several sets of couplets; they also employ alliteration.

See Skelton's works (ed. by Rev. Alexander Dyce, 2 vol., 1843); biography by A. S. Edwards (1981); studies by A. R. Heiserman (1961), S. E. Fish (1965), M. Pollet (tr. 1971), A. F. Kinney (1987), and G. Walker (1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

John Skelton: Selected full-text books and articles

John Skelton: The Critical Heritage By Anthony S. G.Edwards Routledge, 1995
The Complete Poems of John Skelton, Laureate By John Skelton; Philip Henderson J. M. Dent and Sons, 1931
John Skelton, Laureate By William Nelson Columbia University Press, 1939
John Skelton By Peter Green Longmans, Green, 1960
John Skelton, Priest as Poet: Seasons of Discovery By Arthur F. Kinney University of North Carolina Press, 1987
Skelton and Satire By A. R. Heiserman University of Chicago Press, 1961
The Glass of Form: Mirroring Structures from Chaucer to Skelton By Anna Torti D.S. Brewer, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "Reality -- Mirror -- Allegory: John Skelton"
English Poetry in the Sixteenth Century By Maurice Evans Hutchinson's University Library, 1955
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "John Skelton"
The Bronze Treasury: An Anthology of 81 Obscure English Poets Together with Their Biographical Portraits By Harry Kemp The Macaulay Company, 1927
Librarian’s tip: "John Skelton 1460-1529" begins on p. 21
Humor in British Literature, from the Middle Ages to the Restoration: A Reference Guide By Don L. E. Nilsen Greenwood Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "John Skelton (c 1460-1529)" begins on p. 44
English Literature in the Sixteenth Century: Excluding Drama By C. S. Lewis Clarendon Press, 1954
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of John Skelton begins on p. 133
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