How at heaven's gates she claps her wings,The morne not waking til she sings.
Cupid and Campaspe, Act v, Sc. 1. Compare: "Hark, hark! the lark at heaven's gat sings,/And Phœbus 'gins arise", William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, act ii, sc. 3.
There can no great smoke arise, but there must be some fire.
Euphues and his Euphœbus, p. 153, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "There is no fire without some smoke", John Heywood, Proverbes, Part ii, Chap. v.
A clere conscience is a sure carde.
Euphues, p. 207, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "This is a sure card", Thersytes, circa 1550.
As lyke as one pease is to another.
Euphues, p. 215, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
Be valyaunt, but not too venturous. Let thy attyre bee comely, but not costly.
P. 39. Compare: "Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,/ But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy", William Shakespeare, Hamlet, act i, sc. 3.
Though the Camomill, the more it is trodden and pressed downe the more it spreadeth.
P. 46. Compare: "The camomile, the more it is trodden on the faster it grows", William Shakespeare, 1 Henry IV, act ii, sc. 4.
The finest edge is made with the blunt whetstone.
I cast before the Moone.
P. 78. Compare: "Feare may force a man to cast beyond the moone", John Heywood, Proverbes, Part i, Chap. iv.
It seems to me (said she) that you are in some brown study.
P. 80. Compare: "A brown study", Jonathan Swift, Polite Conversation.
The soft droppes of rain perce the hard marble; many strokes overthrow the tallest oaks.
P. 81. Compare: "Water continually dropping will wear hard rocks hollow", Plutarch, Of the Training of Children; "Stillicidi casus lapidem cavat" (translation: "Continual dropping wears away a stone"), Lucretius, i. 314; "Many strokes, though with a little axe,/ Hew down and fell the hardest-timber'd oak", William Shakespeare, 3 Henry VI, act ii, sc. 1.
(c. 1553 or 1554 – November 1606) was an English
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...
writer, best known for his books Euphues,The Anatomy of Wit
Euphues: The Anatomy of Wyt published in 1578 was a didactic romance written by John Lyly and followed two years later by Euphues and his England ; the term "Euphues" is derived from Greek meaning "graceful, witty". Lyly's mannered style is characterized by parallel arrangements and...
and Euphues and His England
. Lyly's linguistic style, originating in his first books, is known as Euphuism
Euphuism is a peculiar mannered style of English prose. It takes its name from a prose romance by John Lyly. It consists of a preciously ornate and sophisticated style, employing in deliberate excess a wide range of literary devices such as antitheses, alliterations, repetitions and rhetorical...
John Lyly was born in Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...
, England, in 1553/1554. According to Anthony Wood
Anthony Wood or Anthony à Wood was an English antiquary.-Early life:Anthony Wood was the fourth son of Thomas Wood , BCL of Oxford, where Anthony was born...
, at the age of sixteen Lyly became a student at Magdalen College, Oxford
Magdalen College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. As of 2006 the college had an estimated financial endowment of £153 million. Magdalen is currently top of the Norrington Table after over half of its 2010 finalists received first-class degrees, a record...
, where he proceeded to earn bachelor's and master's degrees (1573 and 1575), and in 1574 applied to Lord Burghley
William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley , KG was an English statesman, the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572...
"for the queen's letters to Magdalen College to admit him fellow." The fellowship, however, was not granted, and Lyly subsequently left the university. He complains about a sentence of rustication
Rustication is a term used at Oxbridge to mean being sent down or expelled temporarily. The term derives from the Latin word rus, countryside, to indicate that a student has been sent back to their family in the country, or from medieval Latin rustici, meaning "heathens or barbarians"...
apparently passed on him at some time, in his address to the gentlemen scholars of Oxford affixed to the second edition of the first part of Euphues
, but nothing more is known about either its date or its cause. If we are to believe Wood, Lyly never took kindly to the proper studies of the university. "For so it was that his genius being naturally bent to the pleasant paths of poetry (as if Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...
had given to him a wreath of his own bays without snatching or struggling) did in a manner neglect academical studies, yet not so much but that he took the degrees in arts, that of master being compleated 1575."
After he left Oxford, where he had the reputation of "a noted wit," Lyly seems to have attached himself to Lord Burghley. "This noble man," he writes in the Glasse for Europe,
in the second part of Euphues
(1580), "I found so ready being but a straunger to do me good, that neyther I ought to forget him, neyther cease to pray for him, that as he hath the wisdom of Nestor
In Greek mythology, Nestor of Gerenia was the son of Neleus and Chloris and the King of Pylos. He became king after Heracles killed Neleus and all of Nestor's siblings...
, so he may have the age, that having the policies of Ulysses
Odysseus or Ulysses was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca and the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. Odysseus also plays a key role in Homer's Iliad and other works in the Epic Cycle....
he may have his honor, worthy to lyve long, by whom so many lyve in quiet, and not unworthy to be advaunced by whose care so many have been preferred."
Two years later a letter from Lyly to the treasurer, dated July 1582, protests against an accusation of dishonesty which had brought him into trouble with his patron, and demands a personal interview in order to clear his name. However, neither from Burghley nor from Queen Elizabeth I
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...
did Lyly ever receive any substantial patronage. He began his literary career by the composition of Euphues, or the Anatomy of Wit
, which was licensed to Gabriel Cawood in December, 1578, and published in the spring of 1579. In the same year he was incorporated M.A.
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...
at the University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...
, and possibly saw his hopes of court advancement dashed by the appointment in July of Edmund Tylney
Sir Edmund Tilney or Tylney was a courtier best known now as Master of the Revels to Queen Elizabeth and King James. He was responsible for the censorship of drama in England. He was also instrumental in the development of English drama of the Elizabethan period...
to the office of Master of the Revels
The Master of the Revels was a position within the English, and later the British, royal household heading the "Revels Office" or "Office of the Revels" that originally had responsibilities for overseeing royal festivities, known as revels, and later also became responsible for stage censorship,...
, a post at which he had been aiming. Euphues and his England
appeared in 1580, and, like the first part of the book, won immediate popularity.
For a time Lyly was the most successful and fashionable of English writers, hailed as the author of "a new English," as a "raffineur de l'Anglois"; and, as Edward Blount
Edward Blount was a London publisher of the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline eras, noted for his publication, in conjunction with William and Isaac Jaggard, of the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays in 1623....
, the editor of his plays, tells us in 1632, "that beautie in court which could not parley Euphuism was as little regarded as she which nowe there speakes not French." After the publication of Euphues
Lyly seems to have entirely deserted the novel form, which was much imitated (e.g., by Barnabe Rich
Barnabe Rich , was an English author and soldier, and a distant relative of Lord Chancellor Rich....
in his Second Tome of the Travels and Adventures of Don Simonides
, 1584), and to have thrown himself almost exclusively into play-writing, probably still with a view to the mastership of revels. Eight plays by him were probably acted before the queen by the 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....
and especially by the Children of Paul's
The Children of Paul's was the name of a troupe of boy actors in Elizabethan and Jacobean London. Along with the Children of the Chapel, the Children of Paul's were the most important of the companies of boy players that constituted a distinctive feature of English Renaissance theatre.St...
between the years 1584 and 1591, one or two of them being repeated before a popular audience at the Blackfriars Theatre
Blackfriars Theatre was the name of a theatre in the Blackfriars district of the City of London during the Renaissance. The theatre began as a venue for child actors associated with the Queen's chapel choirs; in this function, the theatre hosted some of the most innovative drama of Elizabeth and...
. Their brisk lively dialogue, classical colour and frequent allusions to persons and events of the day maintained that popularity with the court which Euphues
Lyly sat in parliament as a member for Hindon
Hindon may refer to a number of things:*Hindon, Wiltshire, a village in England** the former parliamentary borough at Hindon, Wiltshire, see Hindon *Hindon, New Zealand, a small town in New Zealand*The Hindon River in India...
in 1580, for Aylesbury
Aylesbury is the county town of Buckinghamshire in South East England. However the town also falls into a geographical region known as the South Midlands an area that ecompasses the north of the South East, and the southern extremities of the East Midlands...
in 1593, for Appleby
-Europe:* Appleby, North Lincolnshire, a village in England* Appleby Magna, a village and parish in Leicestershire, England** Appleby Parva, a village in the parish of Appleby Magna* Appleby-in-Westmorland, a town in Cumbria, England...
in 1597 and for Aylesbury a second time in 1601. In 1589 Lyly published a tract in the Martin Marprelate
Martin Marprelate was the name used by the anonymous author or authors of the seven Marprelate tracts which circulated illegally in England in the years 1588 and 1589...
controversy, called Pappe with an hatchet, alias a figge for my Godsonne; Or Crack me this nut; Or a Countrie Cuffe, etc.
About the same time we may probably date his first petition to Queen Elizabeth. The two petitions, transcripts of which are extant among the Harleian manuscripts, are undated, but in the first of them he speaks of having been ten years hanging about the court in hope of preferment, and in the second he extends the period to thirteen years. It may be conjectured with great probability that the ten years date from 1579, when Tylney was appointed master of the revels with a tacit understanding that Lyly was to have the next reversion of the post. "I was entertained your Majestie's servaunt by your own gratious favor," he says, "strengthened with condicions that I should ayme all my courses at the Revells (I dare not say with a promise, but with a hopeful Item to the Revercion) for which these ten yeres I have attended with an unwearyed patience." But in 1589 or 1590 the mastership of the revels was as far off as ever—Tylney in fact held the post for thirty-one years—and that the evidence for his authorship may be found in Gabriel Harvey
Gabriel Harvey was an English writer. Harvey was a notable scholar, though his reputation suffered from his quarrel with Thomas Nashe...
's Pierce's Supererogation
(written November 1589, published 1593), in 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:...
's Have with you to Saffron Walden
(1596), and in various allusions in Lyly's own plays. See Fairholt
Frederick William Fairholt was an English antiquary and wood engraver.-Early life:He was born in London. His father, who was of a German family , was a tobacco manufacturer, and Frederick was at first employed in the business. He then worked as a drawing-master, and later as a scene-painter...
's Dramatic Works of John Lilly
, i. 20.
In the second petition of 1593, Lyly wrote "Thirteen yeres your highnes servant but yet nothing. Twenty friends :hat though they saye they will be sure, I finde them sure to be slowe. A thousand hopes, but all nothing; a hundred promises but yet nothing. Thus casting up the inventory of my friends, hopes, promises and tymes, the summa totalis amounteth to just nothing." What may have been Lyly's subsequent fortunes at court we do not know. Blount says vaguely that Elizabeth "graced and rewarded " him, but of this there is no other evidence. After 1590 his works steadily declined in influence and reputation; he died poor and neglected in the early part of James I
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...
's reign. He was buried in London at St Bartholomew-the-Less
St Bartholomew-the-Less is an Anglican church in the City of London. It is the official church of St Bartholomew's Hospital and is located within the hospital grounds.-History:...
on November 20, 1606. He was married, and we hear of two sons and a daughter.
The proverb "All is fair in love and war" has been attributed to Lyly's Euphues
In 1632 Blount published Six Court Comedies,
the first printed collection of Lyly's plays. They appear in the text in the following order; the parenthetical date indicates the year they appeared separately in quarto form:
Endymion, the Man in the Moon is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy by John Lyly. The play provides a vivid example of the cult of flattery in the royal court of Queen Elizabeth I, and has been called "without doubt, the boldest in conception and the most beautiful in execution of all Lyly's...
Campaspe is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy by John Lyly. Widely considered Lyly's earliest drama, Campaspe was an influence and a precedent for much that followed in English Renaissance drama.-Performance and publication:...
- Sapho and Phao
Sapho and Phao is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy written by John Lyly. One of Lyly's earliest dramas, it was likely the first that the playwright devoted to the allegorical idealization of Queen Elizabeth I that became the predominating feature of Lyly's dramatic canon.-Performance and...
Gallathea is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy by John Lyly. It is unusual among Lyly's plays in that it has a record of modern productions.-Early history:...
Midas is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy written by John Lyly. It is arguably the most overtly and extensively allegorical of Lyly's allegorical plays.-Performance and Production:...
- Mother Bombie
Mother Bombie is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy by John Lyly. It is unique in Lyly's dramatic canon as a work of farce and social realism; in Mother Bombie alone, Lyly departs from his dream world of classical allusion and courtly comedy to create a "vulgar realistic play of rustic life"...
Lyly's other plays include Love's Metamorphosis
Love's Metamorphosis is an Elizabethan era stage play, an allegorical pastoral written by John Lyly. It was the last of his dramas to be printed.-Performance and Publication:...
(though printed in 1601, possibly Lyly's earliest play — the surviving version is likely a revision of the original), and The Woman in the Moon
, first printed in 1597. Of these, all but the last are in prose. A Warning for Faire Women
(1599) and 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....
(1600) have been attributed to Lyly, but on altogether insufficient grounds.
The first editions of all these plays were issued between 1584 and 1601, and the majority of them between 1584 and 1592, in what were Lyly's most successful and popular years. His importance as a dramatist has been very differently estimated. Lyly's dialogue is still a long way removed from the dialogue of Shakespeare. But at the same time it is a great advance in rapidity and resource upon anything which had gone before it; it represents an important step in English dramatic art. His nimbleness, and the wit which struggles with his pedantry, found their full development in the dialogue of Twelfth Night
and Much Ado about Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero....
, just as "Marlowe
- People :Given name* Marlowe Gardiner-Heslin , Canadian actor* Marlowe Morris , American jazz musicianSurname* Andrew W...
's mighty line" led up to and was eclipsed by the majesty and music of Shakespearean passion.
One or two of the songs introduced into his plays are justly famous and show a real lyrical gift. Nor in estimating his dramatic position and his effect upon his time must it be forgotten that his classical and mythological plots, flavourless and dull as they would be to a modern audience, were charged with interest to those courtly hearers who saw in Midas Philip II
Philip II was King of Spain, Portugal, Naples, Sicily, and, while married to Mary I, King of England and Ireland. He was lord of the Seventeen Provinces from 1556 until 1581, holding various titles for the individual territories such as duke or count....
, Elizabeth in Cynthia and perhaps Leicester's unwelcome marriage with Lady Sheffield in the love affair between Endymion
In Greek mythology, Endymion , was variously a handsome Aeolian shepherd or hunter or a king who ruled and was said to reside at Olympia in Elis, but he was also said to reside and was venerated on Mount Latmus in Caria, on the west coast of Asia Minor....
Tellus is a Latin word meaning "earth" and may refer to:* Terra or Terra Mater, the Roman Earth Mother goddess* Tellus , a citizen of ancient Athens who was thought to be the happiest of men...
which brings the former under Cynthia's displeasure. As a matter of fact his reputation and popularity as a playwright were considerable. Harvey dreaded lest Lyly should make a play upon their quarrel; 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...
, as is well known, places him among "the best for comedy;" and Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...
names him among those foremost rivals who were "outshone" and outsung by Shakespeare.
Lyly must also be considered and remembered as a primary influence on the plays of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...
, and in particular the romantic comedies. Love's Metamorphosis
is a large influence on Love's Labour's Lost
Love's Labour's Lost is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s, and first published in 1598.-Title:...
, and Gallathea
Gallathea is an Elizabethan era stage play, a comedy by John Lyly. It is unusual among Lyly's plays in that it has a record of modern productions.-Early history:...
is a major source for A Midsummer Night's Dream
A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that was written by William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta...
. In 2007, Primavera Productions
Primavera is a professional theatre company founded in 2003 by Tom Littler, who is also the Artistic Director. It is based in London, UK.Primavera is particularly noted for its revivals of rarely performed plays, although this does not seem to be its exclusive focus. This has included the...
in London are staging a reading of Gallathea
, directed by Tom Littler, consciously linking it to Shakespeare's plays. They also claim an influence on Twelfth Night
and As You Like It
As You Like It is a pastoral comedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1599 or early 1600 and first published in the folio of 1623. The play's first performance is uncertain, though a performance at Wilton House in 1603 has been suggested as a possibility...
In addition to the plays, Lyly also composed at least one "entertainment" (a show that combined elements of masque
The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment which flourished in 16th and early 17th century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio...
and drama) for Queen Elizabeth; The Entertainment at Chiswick
was staged on July 28 and 29, 1602. Lyly has been suggested as the author of several other royal entertainments of the 1590s, most notably The Entertainment at Mitcham
performed on September 13, 1598.
See Lyly's Complete Works
, ed. R. Warwick Bond (3 vols., 1902); Euphues
, from early editions, by Edward Arber
Edward Arber was an English academic and writer.Arber was born in London. From 1854 be 1878 he worked as a clerk in the Admiralty, and began evening classes at King's College London in 1858. From 1878 to 1881 he lectured in English, under Prof. H...
(1868); AW Ward
Sir Adolphus William Ward was an English historian and man of letters.He was born at Hampstead, London, and was educated in Germany and at Peterhouse, Cambridge....
, English Dramatic Literature
, i. 151; JP Collier
John Payne Collier , English Shakespearian critic and forger, was born in London.-Reporter and solicitor:...
, History of Dramatic Poetry
, iii. 172; "John Lilly and Shakespeare," by C. C. Hense in the Jahrbuch der deutschen Shakesp. Gesellschaft
, vols. vii and viii (1872, 1873); F. W. Fairholt, Dramatic Works of John Lilly
(2 vols.) More recently, all of the comedies have been edited in individual volumes as a part of the Revels Plays series.
(A 1905 study by J. Dover Wilson
John Dover Wilson CH was a professor and scholar of Renaissance drama, focusing particularly on the work of William Shakespeare...