Essex

The cultural impact of an Elizabethan courtier

This book approaches the rich and diverse figure of the earl by looking at a wealth of diverse visual and textual manifestations of Essex produced during the sixteenth century and up to the present day. It resituates his life and career within the richly diverse contours of his cultural and political milieu. Included in the discussion are not just those texts of which Essex is the subject, such as poems, portraits or films, but also those texts produced by Essex himself, including private letters, poems and entertainments. The book first offers important insights into the composition and ethos of the Essex circle. It then provides an important intervention in the debate about the relationship between Essex and the theatre and Essex and Shakespeare, considering his role as a patron of a company of players. The book also explains Essex's use of non-professional theatrical entertainments at court in 1595 to promote an agenda he had shared with Sidney by campaigning for an increased level of English involvement in international affairs. It deals with a frequently neglected entertainment called the device of the Indian Prince, referred to here as Seeing Love as it dramatises the story of the blind Indian prince. Finally, the book offers a detailed examination of Essex's relationship with another dangerously public discourse, 'politic history', by tracing the influence of a range of competing texts.

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