Elizabethan Age (1558-1603)

Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry VIII, became the Queen of England at the age of twenty-five. It was the time of English Renaissance. Elizabethan age is often called the golden age of England on the grounds that art, music, poetry and drama flourished.

Elizabethan Age was introduced by prose which developed in several very different forms. One kind of style was used at court by ladies. That style was very artificial, but it was necessary for every young lady to know not only French but also Euphuism. Euphuism was a fashionable manner of speech. The sentences were complicated and long, and while speaking the speaker often forgot the main idea of his utterance. The style was filled with alliteration, and a great number of similes behind which the reader forgot the thought. The word “Euphuism” came from John Lyly’s novel “Euphues” (1578-80), started a fashion which spread in conversation as well as in books. Queen Elizabeth herself used it. That novel was the first one in English literature. It was a love story where the characters were imaginary.

The second trend in the development of Elizabethan prose was quite the opposite to Euphuism. Thomas Nash didn’t want to write in such a style and invented his own independent novel “The Life of Jacke Wilton” — a story about men of bad character.

The third kind of prose was created by Francis Bacon, who wrote “Essays” — a composition on general subject. It happened in 1597. The sentences in “Essays” are short and laconic: “All colours will agree in the dark”, or “Revenge is a kind of wild juster”. Some of the sentences from the “Essays” became the famous sayings: “A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds”.

In Elizabethan Age many courtiers became either writers or poets. The writing of poetry was part of the education of a gentleman. In 1557 “Songs and Sonnets”, a book of poems, was published, and it contained a lot of good Lyrics by Wyatt, Surrey and others.

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