Sackville, Thomas, 1st earl of Dorset

Sackville, Thomas, 1st earl of Dorset, 1536–1608, English statesman and poet. A barrister of the Inner Temple, Sackville entered Parliament in 1558, gained favor with Elizabeth I, and was created Baron Buckhurst in 1567. He was sent on several diplomatic missions to France and served as a commissioner of state trials. In 1586 he told Mary Queen of Scots of her sentence of death. Elizabeth was angered at his conduct in a mission (1587) to the Low Countries, but he soon regained her favor and rose rapidly in rank. He was made lord treasurer (1599) and lord high steward (1601). After the accession of James I, he was appointed lord treasurer for life and created earl of Dorset (1604). Sackville is important in English literature as the author, with Thomas Norton and others, of Gorboduc (first acted 1561), a drama in blank verse, generally considered the earliest English tragedy. His most important poems are the “Induction” and the “Complaint of the Duke of Buckingham,” which were included in the second edition (1563) of The Mirror for Magistrates, a collection of verse tragedies in the form of dramatic monologues. His works were edited by Reginald Sackville-West (1859).

See Gorboduc, ed. by I. Cauthen, Jr. (1970); J. S. Farmer, ed., The Dramatic Writings of Richard Edwards, Thomas Norton, and Thomas Sackville (1966).

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