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date: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article reviews Spenser's biographies from the sixteenth to the twenty-first centuries. In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, biographers typically composed short notices and ‘character-sketches’ that offered personal and sometimes intimate details, but often made no effort to construct a larger chronological account. It was not until the eighteenth century that biographers concentrated on ‘the personal and the private life, the life of the inner man’. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, biography moved away from psychological analysis and became more ‘patriotic and exemplary’. Biographies of Spenser that appeared during this period highlighted Spenser's contributions not only to the English literary tradition, but also to the formation of a national cultural identity. By the mid-twentieth century, biographers challenged this depiction of Spenser as they increasingly situated his life and career within a variety of historical and cultural contexts.

Keywords: biographies, biographers, life, career

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