Simpson, Buckinghamshire, England
|1 June 1598
Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England
Thomas Preston (1537–1598) was an English master of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and possibly a dramatist.
Preston was born at Simpson, Buckinghamshire, in 1537, and was educated at Eton and at King's College, Cambridge, where he was elected scholar, 16 August 1553, and fellow, 18 September 1556. He graduated B.A. in 1557 and M.A. in 1561.When Queen Elizabeth visited Cambridge in August 1564, he attracted the royal favour by his performance of a part in the tragedy of Dido, and by disputing in philosophy with Thomas Cartwright in the royal presence. He also addressed the queen in a Latin oration on her departure, when she invited him to kiss her hand, and gave him a pension of 20l. a year, with the title of "her scholar." He served as proctor in the university in 1565. In 1572 he was directed by the authorities of his college to study civil law, and four years later proceeded to the degree of LL.D. In 1581 he resigned his fellowship. He seems to have joined the College of Advocates. In 1584 he was appointed master of Trinity Hall, and he served as vice-chancellor of the university in 1589–90.
Preston died on 1 June 1598, and was buried in the chapel of Trinity Hall. A monumental brass near the altar, placed there by his wife Alice, bears a Latin inscriptionand a full-length effigy of him in the habit of a Cambridge doctor of laws.
Preston was a pioneer of the English drama, and published in 1569 A lamentable tragedy mixed ful of pleaſant mirth,conteyning the life of CAMBISES King of PERCIA, from the beginning of his kingdome vnto his death, his one good deed of execution, after that many wicked deeds and tirannous murders, committed by and through him, and laſt of all, his odious death by Gods Juſtice appointed, Doon in ſuch order as foloweth. By Thomas Preston. There are two undated editions: one by John Allde, who obtained a license for its publication in 1569, and another by Edward Allde.It was reprinted in Hawkins's Origin of the English Drama (i. 143) and in Dodsley's Old English Drama (ed. Hazlitt, iv. 157 sq.). A reference to the death of Bishop Bonner in September 1569 shows that the piece was produced after that date.
The play illustrates the transition from the morality play to historical drama. The dramatis personae include allegorical figures (e.g. Cruelty, Small Ability)as well as historical personages (such as the title character, Cambyses II of Persia). The plot, characterisation, and language are rugged and uncouth. Murder and bloodshed abound. The play is largely written in rhyming fourteener couplets, with some irregular heroic verse (as in the speeches of the comic character Ambidexter). The bombastic grandiloquence of the piece became proverbial, and Shakespeare is believed to allude to it when he makes Falstaff say "I must speak in passion, and I will do it in King Cambyses' vein" ( Henry IV, Part 1 , ii.4).
Critics objecting to the style of Cambyses have doubted whether the playwright may not have been a different Thomas Preston. M. Channing Linthicum lists some of these possibilities:
Those who dislike to think of Cambyses as even a puerile attempt of the Latin scholar Thomas Preston, may entertain Chambers' suggestion that it may have been composed by a popular writer of the same name. He mentions, (Elizabethan Stage, III, 469), a "quarterly waiter at Court" under Edward VI, and a choirmaster at Windsor. A "gentleman waiter" of this name was detailed to the service of the Princess of Castile in 1514 (see Letters & Papers of Henry VIII , I, ii, entry 2656 ); a Thomas Preston was rewarded by Princess Mary Tudor, 1537 (see Madden, Privy Purse Expenses of Princess Mary, 59); in 1544, Thomas Preston—presumably the same person—was granted, as the King's "servant" a tenement "called le Crystofer in St Botulphs parishe without Aldrychgate" (see Letters & Papers of Henry VIII, XIX, i, p. 644); "le messuage called le White Beare" was said in 1548, to have been "lately in tenure of Thomas Preston" (see Cal. Pat. Rolls , July 25, 1548, m. 34). None of these—if they were different persons—is termed writer or "player," but the references show that the name was not uncommon in London, and the subject needs to be investigated.
On the other hand, Émile Legouis has noted, "The marked and yet artless bad taste of the style has thrown doubt on the authorship, yet the play shows signs of having been written by a humanist, for Herodotus is followed step by step, and there are many mythological reminiscences."But it has since been argued that the Herodotean account may have been mediated by a chronicle such as Johann Carion's Chronica; a more recent refinement of this theory suggests that Preston used Richard Taverner's 1539 The Garden of Wysedom, which drew on Carion.
Preston (or the author of Cambyses) also wrote a broadside ballad entitled A Lamentation from Rome how the Pope doth bewayle the Rebelles in England cannot prevayle. To the tune of "Rowe well, ye mariners" (London by William Griffith, 1570; reprinted in Collier's Old Ballads, edited for the Percy Society, and in the Borderer's Table Book by Moses Aaron Richardson, vii. 154).This ballad is written "in the person of a fly who happens to be lodged in the pope's nose when news comes about the Catholic uprising in the north of England" and describes the pope raging and hurling furniture, to the fly's terror. Another ballad, titled A Ballad from the Countrie, sent to showe how we should Fast this Lente is extant and dated 1589. Both the surviving ballads, as well as Cambyses, are subscribed at the end "Quod Thomas Preston".
A third ballad by Preston, not now extant, A geliflower of swete marygolde, wherein the frutes of tyranny you may beholde, was licensed for publication to William Griffith, 1569–70.
Besides the orations connected to the queen's 1564 Cambridge visit, Preston contributed Latin verses to the university collection on the restitution of Martin Bucer and Paul Fagius (1560), and to Nicholas Carr's Latin translation of seven orations of Demosthenes (London, 1571).
English Renaissance theatre, also known as Renaissance English theatre and Elizabethan theatre, refers to the theatre of England between 1558 and 1642.
John Bale was an English churchman, historian and controversialist, and Bishop of Ossory in Ireland. He wrote the oldest known historical verse drama in English, and developed and published a very extensive list of the works of British authors down to his own time, just as the monastic libraries were being dispersed. His unhappy disposition and habit of quarrelling earned him the nickname "bilious Bale".
Thomas Cartwright was an English Puritan preacher and theologian.
This article contains information about the literary events and publications of 1569.
This article contains information about the literary events and publications of 1537.
Francis Meres was an English churchman and author. His 1598 commonplace book includes the first critical account of poems and plays by Shakespeare.
William Haughton was an English playwright in the age of English Renaissance theatre.
City comedy, also known as citizen comedy, is a genre of comedy in the English early modern theatre.
William Alabaster was an English Neo-Latin poet, playwright, and religious writer.
Thomas Preston may refer to:
Elizabethan literature refers to bodies of work produced during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603), and is one of the most splendid ages of English literature. In addition to drama and the theatre, it saw a flowering of poetry, with new forms like the sonnet, the Spenserian stanza, and dramatic blank verse, as well as prose, including historical chronicles, pamphlets, and the first English novels. Major writers include William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Richard Hooker, Ben Jonson, Philip Sidney and Thomas Kyd.
The Misfortunes of Arthur, Uther Pendragon's son reduced into tragical notes is a play by the 16th-century English dramatist Thomas Hughes. Written in 1587, it was performed at Greenwich before Queen Elizabeth I on February 28, 1588. The play is based on the Arthurian legend, specifically the story of Mordred's treachery and King Arthur's death as told in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae.
Blurt, Master Constable, or the Spaniards' Night Walk is a late Elizabethan comedy, printed anonymously in 1602 and usually attributed to either Thomas Middleton or Thomas Dekker.
Lust's Dominion, or The Lascivious Queen is an English Renaissance stage play, a tragedy written perhaps around 1600, probably by Thomas Dekker in collaboration with others and first published in 1657.
William Ponsonby was a prominent London publisher of the Elizabethan era. Active in the 1577–1603 period, Ponsonby published the works of Edmund Spenser, Sir Philip Sidney, and other members of the Sidney circle; he has been called "the leading literary publisher of Elizabethan times."
Edward Allde was an English printer in London during the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras. He was responsible for a number of significant texts in English Renaissance drama, including some of the early editions of plays by William Shakespeare.
Augustine Matthews was a printer in London in the Jacobean and Caroline eras. Among a wide variety of other work, Matthews printed notable texts in English Renaissance drama.
Horestes is a late Tudor morality play by the English dramatist John Pickering. It was first published in 1567 and was most likely performed by Lord Rich's men as part of the Christmas revels at court that year. The play's full title is A new interlude of Vice containing the history of Horestes with the cruel revengement of his father's death upon his one natural mother. It has been proposed that John Pickering is likely to be the same person as lawyer and politician Sir John Puckering.
William Duncan was a Scottish natural philosopher and classicist, professor of natural philosophy at Marischal College, Aberdeen.
Edward White was a London printer and stationer whose career spanned a period of over forty years. His shop in the booksellers' district of St Paul's Churchyard was at the Sign of the Gun, where he sold many anonymous works as well as works by Thomas Kyd, Robert Greene, Anthony Munday and Christopher Marlowe. Between 1594 and 1611 he sold all three quartos of William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus.