Skip Content

The Relevance of Edmund Spenser

Tuesday 25 September 2012, 6.00pm – 7.30pm Venue: The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

The purpose of this discussion was to re-evaluate and re-think the reputation of Edmund Spenser (1522-99) in the light of the first biography for 60 years. Spenser is a key figure in English literary history, whose significance has been obscured, and it is an appropriate time to think about his importance. The panelists debated a number of questions: what is Spenser’s poetic achievement? How far did his experience in Ireland leave its mark on his writing? How far can Spenser’s writing be read in terms of his life? What can we assume about his religious and political views?

Chair: Jonathan Bate CBE FBA, Provost of Worcester College, University of Oxford, is a leading authority on early modern drama and culture.


Andrew Hadfield, University of Sussex, is the author of Edmund Spenser: A Life (OUP, 2012)

Anne Lake Prescott, Columbia University, is a leading authority on Spenser’s writing and co-editor of the Norton Spenser

Colin Burrow, University of Oxford, is an authority on Elizabethan literature and author of Edmund Spenser (1996)

Simon Jarvis, Gorley Putt Professor of Poetry and Poetics, University of Cambridge, is a cultural critic and poet