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  • ID: I10370
  • Name: Robert "Poet Friar" GREENE 1
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: JUL 1558 in Norwich, County Norfolk, ENGLAND
  • Death: 3 SEP 1592 in London, County Middlesex, ENGLAND
  • Burial: 5 SEP 1592 London Cathederal Cemetery, London, County Middlesex, ENGLAND
  • Event: Age at Death (Facts Pg) 34 years old
  • Event: Note A contemporary to William Shakespeare and wrote some articles with said author.
  • Event: Note BET 1579 AND 1592 Wrote the autobiographical "Groatsworth of Wit bought with a Million of Repentance" (ed. Chettle)
  • Event: Note BET 1579 AND 1592 Wrote the play "The Honorable Historie of frier Bacon and frier Bongay" (acted 1594)
  • Event: Note 1588 Wrote "Perimedes the Blackesmith" (contains passages in verse which are his best efforts at poetry)
  • Event: Note 1589 Wrote the romance "Menaphon" (reprinted as 'Greene's Arcadia' in 1599, etc.)
  • Event: Note 1590 Wrote the play "Greene's Mourning Garment"
  • Event: Note 1590 Wrote the play "Never Too Late"
  • Event: Note 1591 Wrote the play "Farewell To Folly"
  • Occupation: BET 1579 AND 1592 Writer, poet, pamphleteer, playwright, author, preacher, friar
  • Education: 1579 St. John's College, Cambridge, England (B.A.)
  • Education: 1583 Clare Hall, England (M.A.)
  • Reference Number: IND10903
  • Note:
    ROBERT GREENE was living close to his brother JOHN GREENE for many years.

    (MY NOTE: Where the 2 documents below filed postmortum pertaining to this
    ROBERT GREENE?? This is only informational at this time.)

    "Churchwardens and assistants present the following: their parson, Robert
    Greene, is a preacher, and their curate Mr. Robert Cambell is likewise a
    preacher of God's word, lawfully licenced as they think; they have had 12
    sermons this last year, made by their parson and others; the communion
    has been administered three times; Marie Pilsworth has stood
    excommunicate for two years; she was excommunicated for fornication."
    Place name given as Westbridgeforde (Nottinghamshire Co, England).
    Dated: July 5, 1596
    Title: churchwarden presentment, West Bridgford, Bingham deanery,
    Ref & Document No.: AN/PB/292/5/45

    "Parson, churchwardens and sidesmen present the following: 1. Robert
    Greene is a M'r of Artes and a licenced public preacher; 2. he has
    another benefice, and the value of his benefice in West Bridgeford is £15
    and the value of his other benefice £13 6s 8d; 3. the benefices are
    fifteen miles distant from each other; 4. there are no recusants in the
    parish of West Bridgeford; 5. there are about 220 communicants within the
    parish and no non-communicants."
    No date given; found in series of presentment bills from July and August
    Part of a series of extraordinary presentment bills; see AN/PB
    294/1/135-167 for details of the questions asked.
    Date: 1603
    Title: churchwarden presentment, West Bridgford, Bingham deanery, 1603
    Ref & Document No.: AN/PB/294/1/158

    SOURCE: Nottingham County University (England) on-line
    GREENE, ROBERT (1560?-1592)
    Pamphleteer and poet; B.A. St. John's College, Cambridge, 1579; M.A.
    Clare Hall, 1583; incorporated at Oxford, 1588; led a dissolute life on
    the continent and in London; assailed by Gabriel Harvey in ‘Fovre
    Letters’ as ‘The Ape of Euphues’; defended by Nashe in ‘Strange Newes.’
    He probably had some share in the authorship of the original ‘Henry VI’
    plays, which Shakespeare revised or re-wrote. Among his thirty-eight
    publications were pamphlets, romances, and five (posthumous) plays,
    including ‘The Honorable Historie of frier Bacon and frier Bongay,’
    acted, 1594. Of the romances, ‘Menaphon’ (1589), reprinted as ‘Greene's
    Arcadia’ (1599, &c.), and ‘Perimedes the Blacke-Smith’ (1588) contain
    passages in verse which are his best efforts in poetry. His numerous
    pamphlets include ‘Euphues, his Censure to Philautus’ (continuation of
    Lyly's work, 1587), ‘Greene's Mourning Garment,’ 1590, ‘Never Too Late,’
    1590, and ‘Farewell to Folly,’ 1591, and the autobiographical
    ‘Groatsworth of Wit bought with a Million of Repentance’ (ed. Chettle),
    which attacks Marlowe and Peele and contains the famous reference to
    Shakespeare as an ‘upstart crow.’ His plays and poems were edited by Dyce
    (1831), his ‘Complete Works’ by Grosart, 1881-6. [xxiii. 66]
    SOURCE: Tufts Digital Library URL :: http://nils.lib.tufts.edu/
    .0016%3Aid%3Dart.12567" title="Robert Greene at Tufts"

    More about the above Robert GREENE:
    Born: Jul-1558
    Birthplace: Norwich, county Norfolk, England
    Died: 3-Sep-1592
    Location of death: London, county Middlesex, England
    Cause of death: unspecified

    Gender: Male
    Ethnicity: White
    Occupation: Playwright, Author

    Level of fame: Somewhat
    Executive summary: Friar Bacon

    English dramatist and miscellaneous writer, born at Norwich about 1560.
    The identity of his father has been disputed, but there is every reason
    to believe that he belonged to the tradesmen's class and had small means.
    It is doubtful whether Robert Greene attended Norwich grammar school;
    but, as an eastern counties man (to one of whose plays, Friar Bacon, the
    Norfolk and Suffolk borderland owes a lasting poetic commemoration) he
    naturally found his way to Cambridge, where he entered St. John's College
    as a sizar in 1575 and took his B.A. from there in 1579, proceeding M.A.
    in 1583 from Clare Hall. His life at the university was, according to his
    own account, "spent among wags as lewd as himself, with whom he consumed
    the flower of his youth". In 1588 he was incorporated at Oxford, so that
    on some of his title pages he styles himself "utriusque Academiae in
    Artibus Magister"; and Thomas Nashe humorously refers to him as
    "utriusque Academiae Robertus Greene." Between the years 1578 and 1583 he
    had travelled abroad, according to his own account very extensively,
    visiting France, Germany, Poland and Denmark, besides learning at
    firsthand to "hate the pride of Italie" and to know the taste of that
    poet's fruit, "Spanish mirabolones." The grounds upon which it has been
    suggested that he took holy orders are quite insufficient; according to
    the title page of a pamphlet published by him in 1585 he was then a
    "student in phisicke." Already, however, after taking his M.A. degree, he
    had according to his own account begun his London life, and his earliest
    extant literary production was in hand as early as 1580. He now became
    "an author of playes and a penner of love-pamphlets, so that I soone grew
    famous in that qualitie, that who for that trade growne so ordinary about
    London as Robin Greene?" "Glad was that printer", says Nashe, "that might
    bee so blest to pay him deare for the very dregs of his wit." By his own
    account he rapidly sank into the worst debaucheries of the town, though
    Nashe declares that he never knew him guilty of notorious crime. He was
    not without passing impulses towards a more righteous and sober life, and
    was derided in consequence by his associates as a "Puritane and
    Presizian." It is possible that he, as well as his bitter enemy, Gabriel
    Harvey, exaggerated the looseness of his conduct. His marriage, which
    took place in 1585 or 1586, failed to steady him; if Francesco, in
    Greene's pamphlet Never too late to mend (1590), is intended for the
    author himself, it had been a runaway match; but the fiction and the
    autobiographical sketch in the Repentance agree in their account of the
    unfaithfulness which followed on the part of the husband. He lived with
    his wife, whose name seems to have been Dorothy ("Doll"; and cf. Dorothea
    in James IV), for a while; "but forasmuch as she would perswade me from
    my wilful wickednes, after I had a child by her, I cast her off, having
    spent up the marriage-money which I obtained by her. Then left I her at
    six or seven, who went into Lincolnshire, and I to London", where his
    reputation as a playwright and writer of pamphlets of "love and vaine
    fantasyes" continued to increase, and where his life was a feverish
    alternation of labor and debauchery. In his last years he took it upon
    himself to make war on the cutpurses and "conny-catchers" with whom he
    came into contact in the slums, and whose doings he fearlessly exposed in
    his writings. He tells us how at last he was friendless "except it were
    in a fewe alehouses", where he was respected on account of the score he
    had run up. When the end came he was a dependant on the charity of the
    poor and the pitying love of the unfortunate. Henri Murger has drawn no
    picture more sickening and more pitiful than the story of Greene's death,
    as told by his Puritan adversary, Gabriel Harvey -- a veracious though a
    far from unprejudiced narrator. Greene had taken up the cudgels provided
    by the Harvey brothers on their intervention in the Marprelate
    controversy, and made an attack (immediately suppressed) upon Gabriel's
    father and family in the prose tract A Quip for an Upstart Courtier, or a
    Quaint Dispute between Velvet Breeches and Cloth Breeches (1592). After a
    banquet where the chief guest had been Thomas Nashe -- an old associate
    and perhaps a college friend of Greene's, any great intimacy with whom,
    however, he seems to have been anxious to disclaim -- Greene had fallen
    sick "of a surfeit of pickle herringe and Rennish wine." At the house of
    a poor shoemaker near Dowgate, deserted by all except his compassionate
    hostess (Mrs. Isam) and two women -- one of them the sister of a
    notorious thief named "Cutting Ball", and the mother of his illegitimate
    son, Fortunatus Greene -- he died on the 3rd of September 1592. Shortly
    before his death he wrote under a bond for 10 pounds which he had given
    to the good shoemaker, the following words addressed to his long-forsaken
    wife: "Doll, I charge thee, by the loue of our youth and by my soules
    rest, that thou wilte see this man paide; for if hee and his wife had not
    succoured me, I had died in the streetes. -- Robert Greene."

    Four Letters and Certain Sonnets, Harvey's attack on Greene, appeared
    almost immediately after his death, as to the circumstances of which his
    relentless adversary had taken care to inform himself personally. Nashe
    took up the defense of his dead friend and ridiculed Harvey in Strange
    News (1593); and the dispute continued for some years. But, before this,
    the dramatist Henry Chettle published a pamphlet from the hand of the
    unhappy man, entitled Greene's Groats-worth of Wit bought with a Million
    of Repentance (1592), containing the story of Roberto, who may be
    regarded, for practical purposes, as representing Greene himself. This
    ill-starred production may almost be said to have done more to excite the
    resentment of posterity against Greene's name than all the errors for
    which he professed his repentance. For in it he exhorted to repentance
    three of his quondam acquaintance. Of these three Christopher Marlowe was
    one -- to whom and to whose creation of that "Atheist Tamberlaine" he had
    repeatedly alluded. The second was George Peele, the third probably
    Nashe. But the passage addressed to Peele contained a transparent
    allusion to a fourth dramatist, who was an actor likewise, as "an vpstart
    crow beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygres heart wrapt in a
    player's hyde supposes bee is as well able to bombast out a blanke-verse
    as the best of you; and being an absolute Iohannes-fac-totum, is in his
    owne conceyt the onely shake-scene in a countrey." The phrase italicized
    parodies a passage occurring in The True Tragedie of Richard, Duke of
    York, and retained in Part III of Henry VI. If Greene (as many eminent
    critics have thought) had a hand in The True Tragedie, he must here have
    intended a charge of plagiarism against Shakespeare. But while it seems
    more probable that (as R. Simpson suggested) the upstart crow beautified
    with the feathers of the three dramatists is a sneering description of
    the actor who declaimed their verse, the animus of the whole attack (as
    explained by Dr. Ingleby) is revealed in its concluding phrases. This
    "shake-scene", i.e. this actor had ventured to intrude upon the domain of
    the regular staff of playwrights -- their monopoly was in danger!

    Two other prose pamphlets of an autobiographical nature were issued
    posthumously. Of these, The Repentance of Robert Greene, Master of Arts
    (1592), must originally have been written by him on his deathbed, under
    the influence, as he says, of Father Parsons's Booke of Resolution (The
    Christian Directorie, appertayning to Resolution, 1582, republished in an
    enlarged form, which became very popular, in 1585); but it bears traces
    of having been improved from the original; while Greene's Vision was
    certainly not, as the title page avers, written during his last illness.

    Altogether not less than thirty five prose-tracts are ascribed to
    Greene's prolific pen. Nearly all of them are interspersed with verses;
    in their themes they range from the "misticall" wonders of the heavens to
    the familiar but "pernitious sleights" of the sharpers of London. But the
    most widely attractive of his prose publications were his
    "love-pamphlets", which brought upon him the outcry of Puritan censors.
    The earliest of his novels, as they may be called, Mamillia, was licensed
    in 1583. This interesting story may be said to have accompanied Greene
    through life; for even part ii, of which, though probably completed
    several years earlier, the earliest extant edition bears the date 1593,
    had a sequel, The Anatomie of Love's Flatteries, which contains a review
    of suitors recalling Portia's in The Merchant of Venice. The Myrrour of
    Modestie (the story of Susanna) (1584); The Historie of Arhasto, King of
    Denmarke (1584); Morando, the Tritameron of Love (a rather tedious
    imitation of the Decameron (1584); Planetomachia (1585) (a contention in
    storytelling between Venus and Saturn); Penelope's Web (1587) (another
    string of stories); Alcida, Greene's Metamorphosis (1588), and others,
    followed. In these popular productions he appears very distinctly as a
    follower of John Lyly; indeed, the first part of Mamillia was entered in
    the Stationers' Registers in the year of the appearance of Euphues, and
    two of Greene's novels are by their titles announced as a kind of sequel
    to the parent romance: Euphues his Censure to Philautus (1587), Menaphon.
    Camilla's Alarum to Slumbering Euphues (1589), named in some later
    editions Greene's Arcadia. This pastoral romance, written in direct
    emulation of Sidney's, with a heroine called Samila, contains St.
    Sephestia's charming lullaby, with its refrain "Father's sorowe, father's
    joy." But, though Greene's style copies the balanced oscillation, and his
    diction the ornateness (including the proverbial philosophy) of Lyly, he
    contrives to interest by the matter as well as to attract attention by
    the manner of his narratives. Of his highly moral intentions he leaves
    the reader in no doubt, since they are exposed on the title pages. The
    full title of the Myrrour of Modestie for instance continues: "wherein
    appeareth as in a perfect glasse how the Lord delivereth the innocent
    from all imminent perils, and plagueth the blood-thirsty hypocrites with
    deserved punishments, etc." On his Pandosto, The Triumph of Time (1588)
    Shakespeare founded A Winter's Tale; in fact, the novel contains the
    entire plot of the comedy, except the device of the living statue; though
    some of the subordinate characters in the play, including Autolycus, were
    added by Shakespeare, together with the pastoral fragrance of one of its

    In Greene's Never too Late (1590), announced as a "Powder of Experience:
    sent to all youthfull gentlemen" for their benefit, the hero, Francesco,
    is in all probability intended for Greene himself, the sequel or second
    part is, however, pure fiction. This episodical narrative has a vivacity
    and truthfulness of manner which savour of an 18th century novel rather
    than of an Elizabethan tale concerning the days of "Palmerin, King of
    Great Britain." Philador, the prodigal of The Mourning Garment (1590), is
    obviously also in some respects a portrait of the writer. The experiences
    of the Roberto of Greene's Groat's-worth of Wit (1592) are even more
    palpably the experiences of the author himself, though they are possibly
    overdrawn -- for a born rhetorician exaggerates everything, even his own
    sins. Besides these and the posthumous pamphlets on his repentance,
    Greene left realistic pictures of the very disreputable society to which
    he finally descended, in his pamphlets on "conny-catching": A Notable
    Discovery of Coosnage (1591), The Blacke Bookes Messenger. Laying open
    the Life and Death of Ned Browne, one of the most Notable Cutpurses,
    Crossbiters, and Conny-catchers that ever lived in England (1592). Much
    in Greene's manner, both in his romances and in his pictures of low life,
    anticipated what proved the slow course of the actual development of the
    English novel; and it is probable that his true métier, and that which
    best suited the bright fancy, ingenuity and wit of which his genius was
    compounded, was pamphlet-spinning and storytelling rather than dramatic
    composition. It should be added that, euphuist as Greene was, few of his
    contemporaries in their lyrics warbled wood-notes which like his resemble
    Shakespeare's in their native freshness.

    Curiously enough, as Mr. Churton Collins has pointed out, Greene, except
    in the two pamphlets written just before his death, never refers to his
    having written plays; and before 1592 his contemporaries are equally
    silent as to his labors as a playwright. Only four plays remain to us of
    which he was indisputably the sole author. The earliest of these seems to
    have been the Comicall History of Aiphonsus, King of Arragon, of which
    Philip Henslowe's Diary contains no trace. But it can hardly have been
    first acted long after the production of Marlowe's Tamburlaine, which
    had, in all probability, been brought on the stage in 1587. For this
    play, "comical" only in the negative sense of having a happy ending, was
    manifestly written in emulation as well as in direct imitation of
    Marlowe's tragedy. While Greene cannot have thought himself capable of
    surpassing Marlowe as a tragic poet, he very probably wished to outdo him
    in business, and to equal him in the rant which was sure to bring down at
    least part of the house. Alphonsus is a history proper -- a dramatized
    chronicle or narrative of warlike events. Its fame could never equal that
    of Marlowe's tragedy; but its composition showed that Greene could seek
    to rival the most popular drama of the day, without falling very far
    short of his model.

    In the Honourable History of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay (not known to
    have been acted before February, 1592, but probably written in 1589)
    Greene once more attempted to emulate Marlowe; and he succeeded in
    producing a masterpiece of his own. Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, which
    doubtless suggested the composition of Greene's comedy, reveals the
    mighty tragic genius of its author; but Greene resolved on an altogether
    distinct treatment of a cognate theme. Interweaving with the popular tale
    of Friar Bacon and his wondrous doings a charming idyl (so far as we
    know, of his own invention), the story of Prince Edward's love for the
    Fair Maid of Fressingfield, he produced a comedy brimful of amusing
    action and genial fun. Friar Bacon remains a dramatic picture of English
    Elizabethan life with which The Merry Wives alone can vie; and not even
    the ultraclassicism in the similes of its diction can destroy the
    naturalness which constitutes its perennial charm. The History of Orlando
    Furioso, one of the Twelve Peeres of France has on unsatisfactory
    evidence been dated as before 1586, and is known to have been acted on
    the 21st of February 1592. It is a free dramatic adaptation of Ariosto,
    Harington's translation of whom appeared in 1591, and who in one passage
    is textually quoted; and it contains a large variety of characters and a
    superabundance of action. Fairly lucid in arrangement and fluent in
    style, the treatment of the madness of Orlando lacks tragic power. Very
    few dramatists from Sophocles to Shakespeare have succeeded in
    subordinating the grotesque effect of madness to the tragic; and Greene
    is not to be included in the list.

    In The Scottish Historie of James IV (acted 1592, licensed for
    publication 1594) Greene seems to have reached the climax of his dramatic
    powers. The "historical" character of this play is pure pretence. The
    story is taken from one of Giraldi Cinthio's tales. Its theme is the
    illicit passion of King James for the chaste lady Ida, to obtain whose
    hand he endeavors, at the suggestion of a villain called Ateukin, to make
    away with his own wife. She escapes in doublet and hose, attended by her
    faithful dwarf; but, on her father's making war upon her husband to
    avenge her wrongs, she brings about a reconciliation between them. Not
    only is this well-constructed story effectively worked out, but the
    characters are vigorously drawn, and in Ateukin there is a touch of Iago.
    The fooling by Slipper, the clown of the piece, is unexceptionable; and,
    lest even so the play should hang heavy on the audience, its action is
    carried off by a "pleasant comedie" -- a prelude and some dances between
    the acts -- "presented by Oboram, King of Fayeries", who is, however, a
    very different person from the Oberon of A Midsummer Nights Dream.

    George-a-Greene the Pinner of Wakefield (acted 1593, printed 1599), a
    delightful picture of English life fully worthy of the author of Friar
    Bungay, has been attributed to him; but the external evidence is very
    slight, and the internal unconvincing. Of the comedy of Fair Em, which
    resembles Friar Bacon in more than one point, Greene cannot have been the
    author; the question as to the priority between the two plays is not so
    easily solved. The conjecture as to his supposed share in the plays on
    which the second and third parts of Henry VI are founded has been already
    referred to. He was certainly joint author with Thomas Lodge of the
    curious drama called A Looking Glasse for London and England (acted in
    1592 and printed in 1594) -- a dramatic apologue conveying to the living
    generation of Englishmen the warning of Nineveh's corruption and
    prophesied doom. The lesson was frequently repeated in the streets of
    London by the "Ninevitical motions" of the puppets; but there are both
    fire and wealth of language in Greene and Lodge's oratory. The comic
    element is not absent, being supplied in abundance by Adam, the clown of
    the piece, who belongs to the family of Slipper, and of Friar Bacon's
    servant, Miles.

    Greene's dramatic genius has nothing in it of the intensity of Marlowe's
    tragic muse; nor perhaps does he ever equal Peele at his best. On the
    other hand, his dramatic poetry is occasionally animated with the breezy
    freshness which no artifice can simulate. He had considerable
    constructive skill, but he has created no character of commanding power
    -- unless Ateukin be excepted; but his personages are living men and
    women, and marked out from one another with a vigorous but far from rude
    hand. His comic humor is undeniable, and he had the gift of light and
    graceful dialogue. His diction is overloaded with classical ornament, but
    his versification is easy and fluent, and its cadence is at times
    singularly sweet. He creates his best effects by the simplest means; and
    he is indisputably one of the most attractive of early English dramatic

    (There is also an engraving of said ROBERT GREENE at his writing table on
    this page)


    Father: Richard "of Stanfford Ryvera" GREENE b: 1527 in Bowridge Hall, Gillingham, County Dorset, ENGLAND
    Mother: Joan CONVERSE b: 1534 in County Essex, ENGLAND

    1. NNDB, URL :: www.nndb.com/people/146/000095858/

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