Authors: Michael Drayton

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English poet

Author Works


The Harmonie of the Church, 1591

Idea, the Shepheard’s Garland, 1593

Peirs Gaveston, 1593

Ideas Mirrour, 1594

Matilda, 1594

Endimion and Phoebe, 1595

The Tragicall Legend of Robert, Duke of Normandy, 1596

Mortimeriados, 1596

Englands Heroicall Epistles, 1597

The Barrons Wars, 1603

The Owle, 1604

Poemes Lyrick and Pastorall, 1606

The Legend of Great Cromwell, 1607

Poly-Olbion, 1612-1622

Poems, 1619

The Battaile of Agincourt, 1627

The Muses Elizium, 1630

The Works of Michael Drayton, 1931-1941 (5 volumes; J. W. Hebel, Kathleen Tillotson, and B. H. Newdigate, editors)


The First Part of the True and Honorable Historie of the Life of Sir John Old-Castle the Good Lord Cobham, pr. 1599


Michael Drayton (DRAYT-uhn), born at Hartshill, Warwickshire, in 1563, may have been the most prolific as well as the most dedicated poet of his period. His Poly-Olbion, completed in 1622 and ten years in the writing, is one of the longest poems in English, a varied topographical and historical celebration of England’s glories. It represents only one type of his poetic works, however, which include his earliest volume, the biblical paraphrases published in 1591 titled The Harmonie of the Church; the sonnet series, Ideas Mirrour, published in 1594 and revised, as Idea, in 1619; and the mock-heroic Nimphidia, published in The Battaile of Agincourt in 1627.{$I[AN]9810000586}{$I[A]Drayton, Michael}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Drayton, Michael}{$I[tim]1563;Drayton, Michael}

Drayton’s finest work is The Muses Elizium, finished the year before his death, in which the combination of his talents for realistic expression and dignified artifice are enhanced by a firm idealism. His vigorous sonnets, among them the famous “Since there’s no help, come let us kiss and part” (from the Idea of 1619), showed him leading toward this fluent style.

He collaborated on more than twenty plays, of which only one has survived. His historical poems are of only passing interest; however, his continued fascination with England’s past found successful expression in Englands Heroicall Epistles, modeled on Ovid. This work includes twenty-four imaginary letters exchanged between such famous personages as Henry II and Fair Rosamond, and Edward IV and Jane Shore. Nimphidia contains two of his most charming pastoral poems and a critical verse letter to Henry Reynolds, which puts forth his poetic theories. Drayton died impoverished in London on December 23, 1631, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

BibliographyBrink, Jean R. Michael Drayton Revisited. Boston: Twayne, 1990. Offers an excellent introduction to Drayton’s life and works. The first chapter substantially revises Drayton’s biography. The other chapters deal chronologically with each of his major poems, and the concluding chapter discusses Drayton’s impact on later writers. Includes chronology, notes, and a useful select bibliography.Corbett, Margery, and Ronald Lightbown. The Comely Frontispiece: The Emblematic Title-Page in England, 1550-1660. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979. In this collection of essays, the thirteenth chapter is devoted to the unusual frontispiece to Drayton’s Poly-Olbion, his lengthy poetic description of the geography and history of Great Britain. An interpretation is offered of the engraving of Great Britain as a woman seated on an imperial throne. Beautifully illustrated.Curran, John E. “The History Never Written: Bards, Druids, and the Problem of Antiquarianism in ‘Poly Olbion.’” Renaissance Quarterly 51, no. 2 (Summer, 1998): 498-528. A study of the response of Drayton to the rise of antiquarianism as seen in his depictions of bards and druids in this poem.Harner, James L. Samuel Daniel and Michael Drayton: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980. Approximately one-half of this bibliography is devoted to books and articles written about Michael Drayton. The entries are arranged chronologically beginning with the seventeenth century and concluding with the twentieth. The annotations are reliable and extremely useful.
Categories: Authors