Lyly, John

Lyly, John
born 1554?, Kent, Eng.
died November 1606, London

English writer.

Educated at Oxford, Lyly gained fame in London with two prose romances, Euphues (1578) and Euphues and His England (1580). The novels inspired euphuism, an elegant, extravagant Elizabethan literary style, and made Lyly the first English prose stylist to leave an enduring impression on the language. As a dramatist he also contributed to the development of prose dialogue in English comedy, a genre to which he devoted himself almost exclusively after 1580. Endimion (performed 1588) is considered his finest play.

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▪ English writer
born 1554?, Kent, Eng.
died November 1606, London

      author considered to be the first English prose stylist to leave an enduring impression upon the language. As a playwright he also contributed to the development of prose dialogue in English comedy.

      Lyly was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, and went to London about 1576. There he gained fame with the publication of two prose romances, Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and His England (1580), which together made him the most fashionable English writer of the 1580s. Euphues is a romantic intrigue told in letters interspersed with general discussions on such topics as religion, love, and epistolary style. Lyly's preoccupation with the exact arrangement and selection of words, his frequent use of similes drawn from classical mythology, and his artificial and excessively elegant prose inspired a short-lived Elizabethan literary style called “ euphuism.” The Euphues novels introduced a new concern with form into English prose.

      After 1580 Lyly devoted himself almost entirely to writing comedies. In 1583 he gained control of the first Blackfriars Theatre, in which his earliest plays, Campaspe and Sapho and Phao, were produced. All of Lyly's comedies except The Woman in the Moon were presented by the Children of Paul's, a children's company that was periodically favoured by Queen Elizabeth. The performance dates of his plays are as follows: Campaspe and Sapho and Phao, 1583–84; Gallathea, 1585–88; Endimion, 1588; Midas, 1589; Love's Metamorphosis, 1590; Mother Bombie, 1590; and The Woman in the Moon, 1595. All but one of these are in prose. The finest is considered to be Endimion, which some critics hold a masterpiece.

      Lyly's comedies mark an enormous advance upon those of his predecessors in English drama. Their plots are drawn from classical mythology and legend, and their characters engage in euphuistic speeches redolent of Renaissance pedantry; but the charm and wit of the dialogues and the light and skillful construction of the plots set standards that younger and more gifted dramatists could not ignore.

      Lyly's popularity waned with the rise of Thomas Kyd (Kyd, Thomas), Christopher Marlowe (Marlowe, Christopher), and William Shakespeare, and his appeals to Queen Elizabeth for financial relief went unheeded. He had hoped to succeed Edmund Tilney in the court post of Master of the Revels (Revels, Master of the), but Tilney outlived him, and Lyly died a poor and bitter man.

Additional Reading
G.K. Hunter, John Lyly: The Humanist as Courtier (1962); Peter Saccio, The Court Comedies of John Lyly (1969).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • LYLY, John — (c. 1554 1606) John Lyly authored prose narratives, plays for the private Elizabethan stage, and religious tracts. Born in Canterbury, Lyly attended King s School, Canter­bury, before matriculating at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1569. He… …   Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary

  • Lyly, John — ► (1554 1606) Escritor inglés. Autor de Euphues y Euphues y su Inglaterra. (V. eufuismo.) * * * (¿1554?, Kent, Inglaterra–nov. 1606, Londres). Escritor inglés. Formado en Oxford, Lyly cobró fama en Londres gracias a dos romances en prosa, Euphues …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Lyly, John — (ca. 1553 1606)    English dramatist and author of a prose romance, Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1578), which was his first and most influential published work. This moralizing and allegorical tale was important for its elaborate and highly… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Lyly,John — Lyl·y (lĭlʹē), John. 1554? 1606. English playwright and novelist who wrote a number of comedies that influenced English drama. * * * …   Universalium

  • LYLY, JOHN —    English dramatist, born in Kent; was the author of nine plays on classical subjects, written for the court, which were preceded in 1579 by his once famous Euphues, or Anatomy of Wit, followed by a second part next year, and entitled Euphues… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Lyly, John —  (c. 1555–1606) English playwright …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Lyly, John — (1554? 1606)    Dramatist and miscellaneous writer, was b. in the Weald of Kent, and ed. at both Oxf. and Camb. He wrote several dramas, most of which are on classical and mythological subjects, including Campaspe and Sapho and Phao (1584),… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Lyly — Lyly, John …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • John Lyly — (Lilly ou Lylie) (v. 1553 – novembre 1606) est un écrivain et dramaturge anglais, devenu favori de la Cour. Il est le créateur d un style, l euphuisme, qui se rapproche du style précieux français. Sommaire 1 Vie 2 Œuvres 2.1 Romans …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Lyly — Lyly, John, engl. Dichter, s. Lilly …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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