Puzzling identities
From E.K. to Roffy’s ‘boye’ to Rosalind
in The early Spenser, 1554–80
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Chapter 8 revisits the issue of E.K.’s identity and shows that Harvey was involved in preparing E.K.’s Gloss to the Shepheardes Calender. The Gloss introduces biographical details about Harvey’s life that Spenser by himself could not have supplied. On these grounds, Brink suggests that Harvey supplied the Gloss to Spenser, but that Spenser edited it and so assumed editorial control over the text. This textual analysis is supported by the bibliographical fact that the Gloss supplies annotations for references later cut from the text.

Brink thinks that the combination of homosexual references in the text of the Shepheardes Calender and the discussion of pederasty in the Gloss makes Harvey’s participation all the more likely. Brink suggests the possibility that Spenser insisted on his anonymity in the text of the Shepheardes Calender and references to it because he wanted to prevent reprisals against Bishop John Young. After reviewing the joking interchanges in Latin between Harvey and Immerito in Familiar Letters, Brink suggests that it seems likely that, whatever fictional identity Rosalind has in the Shepheardes Calender, his personal romance ended happily with his marriage to Machabyas Chylde.

The early Spenser, 1554–80

‘Minde on honour fixed’

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