Sidney, Sir Philip (15541586)

Sidney, Sir Philip, poet, and one of the most attractive figures at Elizabeth's court, born at Penshurst, Kent, the son of Sir Henry Sidney, lord-deputy of Ireland; quitted Oxford in 1572, and in the manner of the time finished his education by a period of Continental travel, from which he returned imbued with the love of Italian literature; took his place at once in the court of Elizabeth, his uncle, the Earl of Leicester, being then high in favour, and received rapid promotion, being sent as ambassador in 1576 to the court of Vienna; nor was his favour with the queen impaired by his bold “Remonstrance” against her marriage with the Duke of Anjou, and in 1583 received a knighthood; two years later, “lest she should lose the jewel of her dominions” the queen forbade him to accompany Drake to the West Indies, and appointed him governor of Flushing, but in the following year he received his death-wound at the battle of Zutphen gallantly leading a troop of Netherlander against the Spaniards; his fame as an author rests securely on his euphuistic prose romance “Arcadia,” his critical treatise “The Defence of Poesy,” and above all on his exquisite sonnet-series “Astrophel and Stella,” in which he sings the story of his hapless love for Penelope Devereux, who married Lord Rich; was the friend of Edmund Spenser, and the centre of an influential literary circle (15541586).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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