Spenser Biography

Irish History in Spenser's Time

Interactive Timeline of Irish history in Spenser's time

Timeline of Spenser's Life

1552? Spenser born, probably to a London family of modest means.
1561 Merchant Taylors’ School founded, September. Spenser was probably among the first pupils, along with Thomas Kyd, Lancelot Andrewes, and Thomas Lodge.
1569 Spenser matriculates as a sizar at Pembroke Hall, May.
Jan van der Noot’s A theatre for Worldlings, including poems translated by Spenser from French sources, published in London by Henry Bynneman.
1573 Spenser graduates B.A. from Pembroke, eleventh in a list of one hundred and twenty students.
1576 Spenser receives M.A., sixty-sixth in a list of seventy.
1578 Spenser serving as secretary to John Young, Bishop of Rochester, in Kent.
1579 Spenser back in London, in the employment of the Earl of Leicester.
The Shepheardes Calender entered into the Stationers’ Register, December.
1580 Spenser-Harvey correspondence entered into the Stationers’ Register, June.
Spenser appointed secretary to Arthur, fourteenth Lord Grey de Wilton, upon his departure from England to become Lord Deputy of Ireland.
Grey defeated by O’Byrne at Glenmalure, August.
Spenser accompanies Grey on a military expedition to encounter Papal forces at Smerwick.
Fort surrenders and 600 captives executed, 9 November. Spenser returns thereafter with Grey to Dublin, arriving by the end of the year.
1581 Spenser appointed clerk of the Faculties in the Court of Chancery, March.
Spenser and Lodowick Bryskett with Grey during negotiations with Turlogh Lynagh O’Neill at the Blackwater. Spenser subsequently accompanies Grey on an expedition against Baltinglas and Feagh McHugh.
1582 Lodowick Bryskett later records, in A Discourse of Ciuill Life, that Spenser was present at a gathering of friends at Bryskett’s cottage outside Dublin. Spenser allegedly asked those present—including Sir Robert Dillon, Warham St. Leger, Thomas Norris, and Christopher Carleill—to excuse him from Bryskett’s request that he treat them to a discourse on moral philosophy.
Sir John of Desmond killed and his head sent to Dublin for display, January.
Spenser leases New Abbey, County Kildare, August.
Grey recalled, Spenser discharged from secretaryship, end of August.
1583 Bryskett receives patent for the Clerkship of Munster. Spenser serves as his deputy.
Earl of Desmond killed near Tralee, November.
1586 Articles for the Munser Undertakers drawn up and confirmed by the Queen, June. Most of the land initially put under the disposition of Sir Walter Ralegh.
1587 Spenser in attendance, as Bryskett’s deputy, at meetings of the Munster Council.
1588 Spanish Armada wrecked in a storm off the Irish coast, February.
Spenser occupies Kilcolman, perhaps as early as September.
1589 Official confirmation of Spenser’s right to Kilcolman and its 3,028 acres, May.
The Faerie Queene entered into the Stationers’ Register, December.
1590 Spenser writes his ’Letter of the Authors, to Sir Walter Ralegh’, January.
Spenser obtains royal grant of Kilcolman in fee farm, October.
The Faerie Queene, Books I-III, published in London.
Complaints entered into Stationers’ Register.
1591 Spenser granted a life pension of £50 per annnum by Elizabeth, February.
Spenser completes Colin clouts come home againe while at Kilcolman, December.
1592 Publication of Daphnaïda in London, January.
Cuthbert Burbie publishes the pseudo-Platonic dialogue Axiochus, the translation of which is attributed to ’Edw: Spenser’.
1593 Death of Arthur, Lord Grey de Wilton.
1594 Spenser serving as Queen’s Justice for County Cork.
Spenser marries Elizabeth Boyle, June 11th.
Amoretti and Epithalamion entered in Stationers’ Register, November.
1595 Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, proclaimed a traitor.
Publication of Amoretti and Epithalamion, Colin clouts come home againe, and Astrophel.
1596 Books IV-VI of The Faerie Queene entered in the Stationers’ Register, January.
Earl of Essex raids Spanish fleet at Cadiz and sacks the city, June.
Fowre Hymnes dedicated from the court at Greenwich.
Publication of the first six books of The Faerie Queene, Fowre Hymnes, Prothalamion.
[Spenser composing A vewe of the present state of Irelande?].
1597 Spenser acquires Renny in south Cork, on behalf of his son Peregrine.
Spenser probably completes A vewe of the present state of Irelande sometime this year.
1598 A vewe of the present state of Irelande entered in Stationers’ Register, April, ’to be prynted when he do bringe other authoritie’. The authority is presumably not brought, as the treatise is not published until 1633, in Dublin.
Royal forces routed by the Earl of Tyrone at the Yellow Ford, Augus.t
Spenser designated Sheriff of Cork, September.
Kilcolman sacked, October. Spenser and his family flee to the city of Cork.
Spenser leaves Cork for London, carrying messages from Sir THomas Norris to the Privy Council.
1599 Spenser dies at Westminster, 13th January.
Spenser buried in Westminster Abbey, 16th January. Funeral expenses are paid by the Earl of Essex.

Source: Spenser Homepage (discontinued), adapted from Willy Maley, A Spenser Chronology (1994).

Source: Spenser Online
(Accessed 10/10/2013)