Biography of Ben Jonson

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Biography of Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson was born on June 11, 1572 in London, England. His father had died about a month before his birth, but his mother remarried a bricklayer named Robert Brett. He was briefly educated at Westminster School, but never finished because his stepfather made him work in the more practical business of bricklaying. Jonson was not satisfied with this, so he enrolled in the army and served in Flanders. He returned to England around 1592, and shortly after on November 14, 1594, he married Anne Lewis.

Many people thought English literature, particularly drama, had already reached as high as it could be when Jonson started his career. Jonson’s special gift was his strong sense of artistic form and control. He could also write in the way everyday people spoke, and because of this skill he was liked by both people who were well read and people who didn’t have an advanced education. Jonson’s first big play was Every Man In His Humour. It was performed by a group called the Lord’s Chamberlain's Men, and William Shakespeare played the lead role. Jonson gained fame when he wrote Volpone, Or The Fox in 1606. It was loved by people in England, and also by scholars at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, which was a very big success for Jonson. After Volpone, Jonson wrote Epicoene, or the Silent Woman (1609), The Alchemist (1610), and Bartholomew Fair (1614). Jonson spent a lot of time with the Scottish poet William Drummond in 1618. Drummond wrote down all the conversations he had with Jonson. Drummond said that Jonson made many jokes about other people and considered himself superior to others. After Bartholomew Fair, Jonson did not write very well. However, many young poets and playwrights considered him a hero, and he was always seen as an impressive and respected figure. Jonson also wrote a large number of poems, almost all of them written in response to particular events in the poet’s experience. Most of his poetry was written in...
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