Edmund Spenser, whose name is usually associated with Wyatt, Surrey and Sidney, came from a social background which had very little in common with his aristocratic contemporaries. His father was John Spenser probably a textile worker in London but the boy enjoyed a first rank education in the greatest Renaissance tradition at Merchant Taylors' School and at Cambridge where he received his BA and MA. In London he entered the service of Leicester and made the acquaintance of Sidney and Raleigh. (Gavriliu, 2000: 85)
Early in 1579, Spenser's introduction to Sidney's circle, the Puritan faction at court led politically by Sidney's uncle the Earl of Leicester, aroused in him hopes of obtaining the patronage he needed for advancement at court. In fact, probably through having antagonized Lord Burghley in his satirical Mother Hubberds Tale, he received instead a government appointment to Ireland where he was to remain away from court in various posts of increasing responsibility until the end of his life. (Roston, 1982: 129-130) So, in 1580 he was appointed secretary to Lord Gray of Wilton, lord deputy of Ireland, and he resided in Ireland for most of his life. Sir Walter Raleigh visited him at his residence at Cork and, at the former's insistence, the poet went to London to supervise the publication of the first three books of the Faerie Queene in 1590. The pension of £ 50 granted by the Queen was far less than the poet's expectations who returned to Ireland the following year.
Another visit to London in 1594 with three books of the Fairie Queene again produced no political advancement. Back to Ireland the Spenser family were forced to flee to England by Tyrone's rebellion. A few days after their arrival to London, Spenser died under very poor circumstances. His funeral was paid for by the earl of Essex and he was buried in Westminster Abbey near Chaucer's grave. No monument was erected to him until, in 1620, the Countess of Dorset made a gesture of private generosity. (Gavriliu, 2000: 85)
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