Biography George Chapman

George Chapman

photo of George Chapman
  • Time Period1559 - 1634
  • Place
  • CountryEngland

Poet Biography

Was born near Hitchin about 1559, and, according to Wood, "spent some time in Oxon, where he was observed to be most excellent in the Latin and Greek tongues, but not in logic or philosophy." He is first heard of upon publication of his poem The Shadow of Night in 1594.
He is first mentioned as a dramatist in Henslowe's record of the performance of his Blind Beggar of Alexandria by the Admiral's Men in February, 1596. In 1598 Meres placed him among the best for both comedy and tragedy. Not long after 1600 he seems to have been writing for the Children of the Chapel--called after 1604 the Children of the Queen's Revels--at Blackfriars Theater.
His share in Eastward Ho, written for the children in collaboration with Jonson and Marston, caused his imprisonment for a short while because James I was offended by its satire on the Scots.
In Byron, also written for the boy actors, Chapman offended again by his representation of French royalty on the stage.
His major activity as a dramatist probably ceased by 1613. In the meanwhile he had published, in 1598 Seven Books of the Iliads and a continuation of Marlowe's Hero and Leander.
Minor poetic works and parts of the famous Homeric translation were published at intervals, the complete edition of the two epics appearing in 1616 and a volume of other Homeric poems about 1624.
From Prince Henry, his chief patron, whom he had served as stewerd, he received promise of a large reward and a pension for his Homer, but after the death of the prince in 1612 the promise was not fulfilled.
Chapman wrote a poem on his death and prepared a court masque the next year, but he did not continue in favor at court. His later life was one of poverty. He died in 1634, and was honored with a monument designed by his friend, the great architect Inigo Jones.