Biography John Lyly

John Lyly

photo of John Lyly
  • Time Period1554 - 1606
  • Place
  • CountryEngland

Poet Biography

John Lyly, English Poet, Prose writer, Dramatist, Playwright and Politician, was born in Kent about 1554 though brought up in Canterbury. His father Peter Lyly was the Registrar of Canterbury and his grandfather William Lyly, a well-known grammarian.

He entered Magdalen College, Oxford and graduated his BA and Ma in 1573 and 1575 respectfully. It also seems he was made MA at the University of Cambridge and noted here more of his wit than his scholarship.

Lyly moved to London, producing the first of his work, Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit, in 1578. Followed by Euphues and his England in 1580. The duo referred to as being England’s first novel and being responsible in shaping romantic comedy and dramatic prose.

Campaspe, his first play included prose, Apelle’s Song, Song and Trico’s Song, was performed in about 1581. This was also the year most of his work seems to be done.

In mid to late 1580’s, Lyly married, Yorkshire heiress, Beatrice Browne, who bore him eight children. It seems at about 1588-1606, he held the position of Esquire to the Queen, sitting in four separate parliaments. He died in 1606.

In his time he wrote several prose plays in his elaborate style, written for court attendance and public performances- Alexander, Campaspe and Diogenes (1581-84), Sapho and Phao (early 1580), Endimion: The Man in the Moone (1586-87), Midas (1589), Mother Bombie (1589-94) and Loves Metamorphosise (1601). It seems he only wrote one play in verse being The Woman in the Moone(1594-7), a comedy.