Biography George Peele

George Peele

photo of George Peele
  • Time Period1556 - 1596
  • Place
  • CountryEngland

Poet Biography

The official date of Peele’s birth is unknown, but is theoretically placed at around 1558. In 1565 he was a free scholar at the Christ’s Hospital, a grammar school, of which his father James Peele, a maker of pageants, was a clerk, before later carrying on his education to Oxford in 1571. He was a student first at Broadgates Hall (now Pembroke College), and later at Christ Church, whence he graduate B.A. in 1577, and M.A. in 1579.

From the University, where he had already achieved some reputation as a poet, he went to London and apparently begun the series of irregularities that wrecked his career, for in the same year the governors of Christ's Hospital forced his father to turn him out of the precincts of the hospital.

When he returned to Oxford on business in 1583, two years after his departure for London, he was called upon to manage the performance of two Latin plays by William Gager for the entertainment of Alasco, a Polish prince, and in two sets of Latin elegiacs Gager commended Peele as wit and poet.

His wife, whom he had married by 1583, brought him some property, which he soon dissipated. The rest of his life was apparently spent in literary work in London among such friends as Greene, Lodge, Nashe, and Watson. Like other convivial spirits among the literary men of the time, Peele seems to have been given to excesses. These probably hastened his end, and were no doubt responsible for the ascription to him of a series of escapades and sayings, chiefly fabulous in all likelihood, which furnished material for the Jests of George Peele, published about 1605. He seems to have been an actor as well as a playwright. Meres mentions him in Palladis Tamia (1598) as dead. Some sources also state he was buried in the Parish of St. James, Clerkenwell, November 9, 1596.