Finding and Making
Robert Sidney (1563–1626) was brought up in the bosom of his family. While his older brother was impressing his teachers at Oxford, he was still in skirts, with an older an…ounger sister for playmates. While Philip Sidney was travelling Europe, Robert was being taught at home instead of following his brother to Shrewsbury School.1 When Philip was warming up fo…areer of state service with his embassy of 1577, Robert was treading his brother's footsteps at Christ Church, Oxford, with the same tutor, Robert Dorsett, who wrote regular progress reports to Philip.2 Family accounts for these years lead us to emphasize certain aspects of Robert's childhood. One is his music-making, and his sister Mary's devotion to her lute-playing. Another is those glimpses he had of the grown-up world as his brother entered it: when the family followed the Queen's progress in the summer of 1575, the year Philip returned from the continent, and Robert saw the Kenilworth entertainments put on by his uncle the Earl of Leicester;4 Christmas at court in 1576–7; and Mary Sidney's marriage to the Earl of Pembroke in 1577 (on the latter two occasions Philip made sure Robert was dressed lik…oung dandy, and there are signs of protest from their father in the accounts).5 As
1 Philip started at Shrewsbury just before his tenth birthday in October 1564 and at Oxford in February 1568; at an equivalent age Robert was still in the charge of the Mantells, with his sisters Mary (born 1561) and Ambrosia (c.1564–75). The Mantells' accounts between 1572 and 1575 include clothing, books, writing lessons and materials, a bow and arrows, books for 'Mr. Robert's master', an…hillings 'To them that played Robin Hood'. See HMC, 1.267–8. Cf. Hannay, 27.
2 Dorsett's accounts are in HMC, 1.268–9; his letters are in Christ Church Library and eleven are quoted in English translation in James M. Osborn, Young Philip Sidney, 1572–1577 (New Haven and London, 1972): see Index, s.v. 'Dorsett, Robert'.
3HMC, 1.269 (singing lessons at Christ Church from Richard Lant), 256 (a lute for Mary in 1571–2), 268 (strings in 1573 and 1573–4).
4 See Duncan-Jones, 90–9.