Fletcher, Giles

Fletcher, Giles, the elder, 1548?–1611, English writer and diplomat. He became a member of Parliament and later treasurer of St. Paul's. An envoy to Russia in 1588, he published an account of his experiences, Of the Russe Common Wealth (1591). His principal poetic work is a sonnet sequence, Licia (1593).

His younger son, Giles Fletcher, the younger, b. 1585 or 1586, d. 1623, was also a poet. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, he served as a reader in Greek until 1618, when he took holy orders; he became rector at Alderton, Suffolk, in 1619. His best poem, Christ's Victory and Triumph (1610), an example of baroque devotional poetry, owed much to Spenser.

Giles Fletcher the elder's first son, Phineas Fletcher, 1582–1650, was a poet also. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, he was ordained in 1611. Although he was called the Spenser of his age and had an influence on the writing of Milton, he is chiefly remembered for The Purple Island (1633), a belabored allegorical poem on the human body and mind. His other works include The Locusts or Apollyonists (1627), Britain's Ida (1628), and A Father's Testament (1670).

See The English Works of Giles Fletcher, the Elder, ed. by L. E. Berry (1963).

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