Puttenham, George

(?1529-1591)
   He was the nephew of Sir Thomas Elyot (?14901546), diplomat and author of the Boke Named the Governour (1531), a treatise on education and politics. On account of his being a Catholic, Puttenham and his work came under Puritan persecution, so The Arte of English Poesie was published anonymously in 1589. He may fairly be regarded as the first English writer who attempted philosophical criticism of literature. There was doubt whether he or his brother Richard wrote it, but consensus now swings in favor of George. The book continues to exert a fascination. As recently as 2003 the scholar Charles Murray Willis published a book on Puttenham and Shakespeare (see Sources), in which he puts forward the view that some of the plays used by Shakespeare could have been written by Puttenham. For example, "The language displayed in the poems 'Venus and Adonis' and 'Lucrece' (1593-34) seems closely connected with Puttenham's 'Arte of English Poesie'" (Willis). Puttenham also wrote a collection of poems entitled Partheniades, consisting of seventeen poems in various meters. The Posie is in three books: Of Poets and Posie; Of Proportion; and Of Ornament.
   Sources: Elizabethan Lyrics. Norman Ault, ed. William Sloane Associates, 1949. Shakespeare and George Puttenham's The Arte of English Poesie. UPSO (Universal Publishing Solutions Online) Ltd., 2003. The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry. 11th ed. The Columbia Granger's World of Poetry, Columbia University Press, 2005 (http://www.columbiagrangers.org). The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000. The Penguin Book of Renaissance Verse 1509-1659. David Norbrook, ed. Penguin Books, 1992.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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