George Peele

George Peele

Overview
George Peele was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 dramatist.

Peele was christened on 25 July 1556. His father, who appears to have belonged to a Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

shire family, was clerk of Christ's Hospital
Christ's Hospital
Christ's Hospital is an English coeducational independent day and boarding school with Royal Charter located in the Sussex countryside just south of Horsham in Horsham District, West Sussex, England...

, and wrote two treatises on bookkeeping
Bookkeeping
Bookkeeping is the recording of financial transactions. Transactions include sales, purchases, income, receipts and payments by an individual or organization. Bookkeeping is usually performed by a bookkeeper. Bookkeeping should not be confused with accounting. The accounting process is usually...

. Peele was educated at Christ's Hospital, and entered Broadgates Hall (Pembroke College), Oxford
Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. As of 2009, Pembroke had an estimated financial endowment of £44.9 million.-History:...

, in 1571. In 1574 he removed to Christ Church, taking his B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree in 1577, and proceeding M.A.
Master of Arts (Oxbridge)
In the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin, Bachelors of Arts of these universities are admitted to the degree of Master of Arts or Master in Arts on application after six or seven years' seniority as members of the university .There is no examination or study required for the degree...

 in 1579. In that year, the governors of Christ's Hospital requested their clerk to "discharge his house of his son, George Peele." He went up to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 about 1580, but in 1583 when Albertus Alasco (Albert Laski), a Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 nobleman, was entertained at Christ Church, Peele was entrusted with the arrangement of two Latin plays by William Gager
William Gager
William Gager was an English jurist, now known for his Latin dramas.He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford....

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 1580-1619) presented on the occasion.

He was also complimented by Dr.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'George Peele'
Start a new discussion about 'George Peele'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
George Peele was an English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 dramatist.

Life


Peele was christened on 25 July 1556. His father, who appears to have belonged to a Devon
Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...

shire family, was clerk of Christ's Hospital
Christ's Hospital
Christ's Hospital is an English coeducational independent day and boarding school with Royal Charter located in the Sussex countryside just south of Horsham in Horsham District, West Sussex, England...

, and wrote two treatises on bookkeeping
Bookkeeping
Bookkeeping is the recording of financial transactions. Transactions include sales, purchases, income, receipts and payments by an individual or organization. Bookkeeping is usually performed by a bookkeeper. Bookkeeping should not be confused with accounting. The accounting process is usually...

. Peele was educated at Christ's Hospital, and entered Broadgates Hall (Pembroke College), Oxford
Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. As of 2009, Pembroke had an estimated financial endowment of £44.9 million.-History:...

, in 1571. In 1574 he removed to Christ Church, taking his B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree in 1577, and proceeding M.A.
Master of Arts (Oxbridge)
In the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin, Bachelors of Arts of these universities are admitted to the degree of Master of Arts or Master in Arts on application after six or seven years' seniority as members of the university .There is no examination or study required for the degree...

 in 1579. In that year, the governors of Christ's Hospital requested their clerk to "discharge his house of his son, George Peele." He went up to London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 about 1580, but in 1583 when Albertus Alasco (Albert Laski), a Polish
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 nobleman, was entertained at Christ Church, Peele was entrusted with the arrangement of two Latin plays by William Gager
William Gager
William Gager was an English jurist, now known for his Latin dramas.He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford....

 (fl.
Floruit
Floruit , abbreviated fl. , is a Latin verb meaning "flourished", denoting the period of time during which something was active...

 1580-1619) presented on the occasion.

He was also complimented by Dr. Gager for an English verse translation of one of the Iphigenias of Euripides
Euripides
Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

. In 1585 he was employed to write the Device of the Pageant borne before Woolston Dixie, and in 1591 he devised the pageant in honour of another Lord Mayor
Lord Mayor
The Lord Mayor is the title of the Mayor of a major city, with special recognition.-Commonwealth of Nations:* In Australia it is a political position. Australian cities with Lord Mayors: Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart, Melbourne, Newcastle, Parramatta, Perth, Sydney, and Wollongong...

, Sir William Webbe
William Webbe
William Webbe was an English critic and translator. Little is known about him except that he attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and was a tutor for distinguished families....

. This was the Descensus Astraeae (printed in the Harleian Miscellany
Harleian Miscellany
The Harleian Miscellany was a collection of material from the library of the Earl of Oxford collated and edited by Samuel Johnson between 1744 and 1753...

, 1808), in which Queen Elizabeth
Elizabeth I of England
Elizabeth I was queen regnant of England and Ireland from 17 November 1558 until her death. Sometimes called The Virgin Queen, Gloriana, or Good Queen Bess, Elizabeth was the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty...

 is honoured as Astraea.

Peele had married as early as 1583 a lady who brought him some property, which he speedily dissipated. Robert Greene
Robert Greene (16th century)
Robert Greene was an English author best known for a posthumous pamphlet attributed to him, Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit, widely believed to contain a polemic attack on William Shakespeare. He was born in Norwich and attended Cambridge University, receiving a B.A. in 1580, and an M.A...

, at the end of his pamphlet Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit
Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit
Greenes, Groats-worth of Witte, bought with a million of Repentance is a tract published as the work of the recently deceased playwright Robert Greene...

, exhorts Peele to repentance, saying that he has, like himself, "been driven to extreme shifts for a living." Anecdotes of his reckless life were emphasized by the use of his name in connection with the apocryphal Merrie conceited Jests of George Peele (printed in 1607). Many of the stories had circulated before in other jestbooks, unattached to Peele's name, but there are personal touches that may be biographical. The book provided source material for the play The Puritan
The Puritan
The Puritan, or the Widow of Watling Street, also known as The Puritan Widow, is an anonymous Jacobean stage comedy, first published in 1607. It is often attributed to Thomas Middleton, but also belongs to the Shakespeare Apocrypha due to its title page attribution to "W.S.".-Date and...

,
one of the works of the Shakespeare Apocrypha
Shakespeare Apocrypha
The Shakespeare Apocrypha is a group of plays that have sometimes been attributed to William Shakespeare, but whose attribution is questionable for various reasons...

.

Peele died "of the pox," according to Francis Meres
Francis Meres
Francis Meres was an English churchman and author.He was born at Kirton in the Holland division of Lincolnshire in 1565. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1587 and an M.A. in 1591. Two years later he was incorporated an M.A. of Oxford...

, and was buried on 9 November 1596. One of the eight boarding houses at the Horsham campus is now named Peele after George Peele and as a commemoration to the work of the Peele family with the ancient foundation of the Christs Hospital school.

Plays


His pastoral comedy The Arraignment of Paris
Paris (mythology)
Paris , the son of Priam, king of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the best-known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War...

was presented by the Children of the Chapel
Children of the Chapel
The Children of the Chapel were the boys with unbroken voices, choristers, who formed part of the Chapel Royal, the body of singers and priests serving the spiritual needs of their sovereign wherever they were called upon to do so....

 Royal before Queen Elizabeth perhaps as early as 1581, and was printed anonymously in 1584. In the play, Paris is arraigned before Jupiter
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

 for having assigned the apple to Venus
Venus (mythology)
Venus is a Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty, sex,sexual seduction and fertility, who played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths...

. Diana, with whom the final decision rests, gives the apple to none of the competitors but to a nymph
Nymph
A nymph in Greek mythology is a female minor nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from gods, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing;...

 called Eliza, a reference to Queen Elizabeth I.

His play Edward I
Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First
"The Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First" is a play by George Peele, published 1593, chronicling the career of Edward I of England.The play concentrates on the power struggle between Edward I and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, also glancing at the reign and fall of John Balliol...

was printed in 1593. This chronicle history is an advance on the old chronicle plays, and marks a step towards the Shakespearean historical drama. Peele is said by some scholars to have written or contributed to the bloody tragedy Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, and possibly George Peele, believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy, and is often seen as his attempt to emulate the violent and bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries, which were...

, which was published as the work of Shakespeare. This theory is in part due to Peele's predilection for gore, as evidenced in The Battle of Alcazar (acted 1588-1589, printed 1594), published anonymously, which is attributed with much probability to him. The Old Wives' Tale (printed 1595) was followed by The Love of King David and fair Bethsabe (written ca. 1588, printed 1599), which is notable as an example of Elizabethan drama drawn entirely from Scriptural sources. F. G. Fleay
Frederick Gard Fleay
Frederick Gard Fleay was an influential and prolific nineteenth-century Shakespeare scholar.Fleay, the son of a linen draper, graduated from King's College London and Trinity College, Cambridge , where he received mathematical training that was key to his later achievements...

 sees in it a political satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

, and identifies Elizabeth and Leicester as David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

 and Bathsheba
Bathsheba
According to the Hebrew Bible, Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah the Hittite and later of David, king of the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. She is most known for the Bible story in which King David seduced her....

, Mary, Queen of Scots as Absalom
Absalom
According to the Bible, Absalom or Avshalom was the third son of David, King of Israel with Maachah, daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. describes him as the most handsome man in the kingdom...

.

Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes
Sir Clyomon and Sir Clamydes
The History of the Two Valiant Knights, Sir Clyomon Knight of the Golden Shield, Son to the King of Denmark, and Clamydes the White Knight, Son to the King of Swabia is an early Elizabethan stage play, first published in 1599 but written perhaps three decades earlier...

(printed 1599) has been attributed to Peele, but on insufficient grounds. Other plays attributed to Peele include Jack Straw
Jack Straw (rebel leader)
For other uses, see Jack Straw Jack Straw was one of the three leaders of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, a major event in the history of England.-Biography:Little is known of the Rising's leaders. It been suggested that Jack Straw may have been a preacher...

(ca. 1587), The Wisdom of Dr. Doddypoll (printed 1600), The Maid's Metamorphosis
The Maid's Metamorphosis
The Maid's Metamorphosis is a late Elizabethan stage play, a pastoral first published in 1600. The play, "a comedy of considerable merit," was published anonymously, and its authorship has been a long-standing point of dispute among scholars....

(printed 1600), and Wily Beguiled (printed 1606) — though the scholarly consensus has judged these attributions to be insufficiently supported by evidence. Indeed, individual scholars have repeatedly resorted to Peele in their attempts to grapple with Elizabethan plays of uncertain authorship. Plays that have been assigned to (or blamed on) Peele include Locrine
Locrine
Locrine is an Elizabethan play depicting the legendary Trojan founders of the nation of England and of Troynovant . The play presents a cluster of complex and unresolved problems for scholars of English Renaissance theatre.-Date:...

, The Troublesome Reign of King John
The Troublesome Reign of King John
The Troublesome Reign of King John is an Elizabethan history play, generally accepted by scholars as the source and model that William Shakespeare employed for his own King John ....

,
and Parts 1 and 2 of Shakespeare's Henry VI trilogy, in addition to Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus
Titus Andronicus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, and possibly George Peele, believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy, and is often seen as his attempt to emulate the violent and bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries, which were...

. Edward III
Edward III (play)
The Reign of King Edward the Third is an Elizabethan play printed anonymously in 1596. It has frequently been claimed that it was at least partly written by William Shakespeare, a view that Shakespeare scholars have increasingly endorsed. The rest of the play was probably written by Thomas Kyd...

was attributed to Peele by Tucker Brooke in 1908. While the attribution of the entire play to Peele is no longer accepted, Sir Brian Vickers demonstrated using metrical and other analysis that Peele wrote the first act and the first two scenes in Act II of Titus Andronicus, with Shakespeare responsible for the rest.

Minor works


Among his occasional poems are The Honour of the Garter, which has a prologue containing Peele's judgments on his contemporaries, and Polyhymnia (1590), a blank verse
Blank verse
Blank verse is poetry written in unrhymed iambic pentameter. It has been described as "probably the most common and influential form that English poetry has taken since the sixteenth century" and Paul Fussell has claimed that "about three-quarters of all English poetry is in blank verse."The first...

 description of the ceremonies attending the retirement of the queens' champion, Sir Henry Lee
Henry Lee of Ditchley
Sir Henry Lee KG , of Ditchley, was Master of the Ordnance under Queen Elizabeth I of England.-Life:Lee became Queen Elizabeth I’s champion in 1570 and was appointed Master of the Royal Armouries in 1580, an office which he held until his death...

. This is concluded by the sonnet
Sonnet
A sonnet is one of several forms of poetry that originate in Europe, mainly Provence and Italy. A sonnet commonly has 14 lines. The term "sonnet" derives from the Occitan word sonet and the Italian word sonetto, both meaning "little song" or "little sound"...

, A Farewell to Arms, quoted by Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray
William Makepeace Thackeray was an English novelist of the 19th century. He was famous for his satirical works, particularly Vanity Fair, a panoramic portrait of English society.-Biography:...

 in the seventy-sixth chapter of The Newcomes and which served as the title of Ernest Hemingway's novel of the same name. To The Phoenix Nest
The Phoenix Nest
The Phoenix Nest was an anthology of poetry by various authors which was "set foorth" by an as-yet unidentified "R. S. of the Inner Temple Gentleman", in 1593...

in 1593 he contributed The Praise of Chastity.

Reputation


Peele belonged to the group of university scholars who, in Greene's phrase, "spent their wits in making playes." Greene went on to say that he was "in some things rarer, in nothing inferior," to Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe
Christopher Marlowe was an English dramatist, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. As the foremost Elizabethan tragedian, next to William Shakespeare, he is known for his blank verse, his overreaching protagonists, and his mysterious death.A warrant was issued for Marlowe's arrest on 18 May...

 and Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe
Thomas Nashe was an English Elizabethan pamphleteer, playwright, poet and satirist. He was the son of the minister William Nashe and his wife Margaret .-Early life:...

. This praise was not unfounded. The credit given to Greene and Marlowe for the increased dignity of English dramatic diction, and for the new smoothness infused into blank verse, must certainly be shared by Peele. The most familiar parts of Peele's work are, however, the delightful songs in his plays—from The Old Wives' Tale and The Arraignment of Paris, and the song "A Farewell to Arms"—which are regularly anthologized.

Professor F. B. Gummere, in a critical essay prefixed to his edition of The Old Wives Tale, puts in another claim for Peele. In the contrast between the romantic story and the realistic dialogue he sees the first instance of humour quite foreign to the comic business of earlier comedy. The Old Wives Tale is a play within a play, slight enough to be perhaps better described as an interlude
Entr'acte
' is French for "between the acts" . It can mean a pause between two parts of a stage production, synonymous to an intermission, but it more often indicates a piece of music performed between acts of a theatrical production...

. Its background of rustic folklore gives it additional interest, and there is much fun poked at Gabriel Harvey
Gabriel Harvey
Gabriel Harvey was an English writer. Harvey was a notable scholar, though his reputation suffered from his quarrel with Thomas Nashe...

 and Richard Stanyhurst
Richard Stanyhurst
Richard Stanyhurst was an Irish alchemist, translator, poet and historian, born in Dublin.His father, James Stanyhurst, was recorder of the city, and Speaker of the Irish House of Commons in 1557, 1560 and 1568. Richard was sent in 1563 to University College, Oxford, and took his degree five years...

. Perhaps Huanebango, who parodies Harvey's hexameters, and actually quotes him on one occasion, may be regarded as representing that arch-enemy of Greene and his friends.

Peele's Works were edited by Alexander Dyce
Alexander Dyce
Alexander Dyce was a Scottish dramatic editor and literary historian.He was born in Edinburgh and received his early education at the high school there, before becoming a student at Exeter College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. in 1819...

 (1828, 1829–1839 and 1861), A. H. Bullen (2 vols., 1888), and by Charles Tyler Prouty (3 vols., 1952–1970). An examination of the metrical peculiarities of his work is to be found in Richard Lämmerhirt's Georg Peele, Untersuchungen über sein Leben und seine Werke (Rostock, 1882). See also Professor F.B. Gummere, in Representative English Comedies (1903); and an edition of The Battell of Alcazar, printed for the Malone Society
Malone Society
The Malone Society is a British-based scholarly society devoted to the study of sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century drama. It publishes editions of plays from manuscript, facsimile editions of printed and manuscript plays of the period, and editions of original documents relating to English...

in 1907.

External links