Francis Meres

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Francis Meres (1565 - January 29, 1647), was an English churchman and author.

He was born at Kirton in the Holland division of Lincolnshire in 1565. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1587, and M.A. in 1591. Two years later he was incorporated an M.A. of Oxford. His relative, John Meres, was high sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1596, and apparently helped him in the early part of his career. In 1602 he became rector of Wing in Rutland, where he also ran a school.

Meres rendered immense service to the history of Elizabethan literature by the publication of his Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury (1598), a commonplace book that important as a source on the Elizabethan poets and more particularly so because its list of Shakespeare's plays is a document in establishing the Chronology of Shakespeare plays. It was one of a series of such volumes of short pithy sayings, the first of which was Politeuphuia: Wits Commonwealth (1597), compiled by John Bodenham or by Nicholas Ling, the publisher. Meres' Palladis Tamia contained moral and critical reflections borrowed from various sources, and embraced sections on books, on philosophy, on music and painting, and a famous "Comparative Discourse of our English poets with the Greeke, Latin, and Italian poets." This chapter enumerates the English poets from Geoffrey Chaucer to Meres's own day, and compares each with some classical author.

The book was reissued in 1634 as a school book, and was partially reprinted in the Ancient Critical Essays (1811-1815) of Joseph Haslewood, Edward Arber's English Garner, and Gregory Smith's Elizabethan Critical Essays (1904). A sermon entitled Gods Arithmeticke (1597), and two translations from the Spanish of Luís de Granada entitled Granada's Devotion and the Sinners' Guide (1598) complete the list of his works.

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