Jean R. Brink
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Ireland and the preferment of Edmund Spenser (1580)
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This chapter asks and answers the question of why Ireland was attractive to Englishmen, particularly those, like Spenser, who were intrigued by adventure and had few, if any, prospects in England. The combination of Latin debates on Roman colonization and the lurid report of Captain Thomas Smith, a patron of Gabriel Harvey’s, being boiled and fed to dogs sparked interest in Ireland. For Spenser, his appointment as secretary to Arthur, Lord Grey of Wilton, was a preferment, an extraordinary opportunity for a twenty-five-year-old poet. In the sixteenth century, Ireland resembled the England of the Wars of the Roses, and it promised medieval glamour as well as remarkable opportunities for social advancement to those, like Spenser, who traded sixteenth-century England for Ireland.

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The early Spenser, 1554–80

‘Minde on honour fixed’

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