Overbury, Sir Thomas

Overbury, Sir Thomas, 1581–1613, English author and courtier. He was a friend and adviser to Robert Carr, an Oxford acquaintance. The two quarreled violently when Overbury disapproved of Carr's marriage to Frances Howard, divorced wife of the earl of Essex. Overbury's hostility was so marked that the Howard family brought pressure to bear, and James I had Overbury imprisoned in the Tower, where he was slowly poisoned. Carr and Frances Howard were convicted of his murder, but their lives were spared by the king. Overbury was a notable writer of brief informal essays describing a type or an individual. His best-known sketch in verse, A Wife (1614), outlines his conception of the ideal wife.

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