When you think of British poets you quickly think of William Shakespeare. But, did you know that Shakespeare was not the only famous and successful play writer during his time? In fact, there were hundreds of famous British writers we do not hear about. One of Williams Shakespeare biggest competors was the successful Ben Jonson. Jonson was one of the most extravagant poetic that ever lived. He was known for his humorous plays, poems, and literary critics (www.luminarium.org).
Ben Jonson was born June 11, 1572 in London, England (www.poet.org). He was born two months after his father’s death. Though he was without a father he still had the loving care of another parent. Johnson was raised in Westminster by his step farther. (Critical Guide p.3).His step father was a hard working man that laid bricks for a living. He tried his best to take care of the poor family. In other words Jonson was not the wealthiest man during this time. Under those circumstances, his father influenced him to become a bricklayer to help provide for his family (Critical Guide p.3).
Sooner or later Jonson got married. He married Anne Lewis on November 14, 1594 at the age of twenty two (“Cambridge Companion “).Later on Anne Lewis and Ben Jonson birthed a son and a daughter. He named his first born daughter Maria and his first son Benjamin. His firstborn
daughter Maria died in November 1593 (Companion 16-19). Maria was only six months of age when she passed away. Unfortunately, after his daughter’s death his son Benjamin died ten years later. Benjamin was said to have died of plaque. After his son’s death Ben Jonson left his wife and went on to pursue his life as a famous poet and play writer (Companion p.6).
A point that is often over looked is Jonson’s education. Jonson attended St. Martin’s parish school and Westminster school. Here he was influenced by the classical scholar, William Camden (The Complete Critical Guide). Jonson was also was said to attend the University of Cambridge. Jonson learned a few of his technique when he attended the military in 1590 (Critical Guide, p.7). On the other hand, he was taught how to lay bricks by his step father.
Though, Ben Jonson was a very successful poet and play writer he had problems like a normal person. After his eldest daughter and son passed he wrote two poems by the name of “On my first son “and “On my first daughter”, which was dedicated to Maria and Benjamin (A Life: Garland 3-3). Furthermore in his life he found himself in prison and in danger of the gallows. Jonson was being punished for the killing of Henslowe’s Company actor Gabriel Spenser on September 22, 1598 (Cambridge Companion 4-3). The argument was said to be over a part in the play of the “Isle of Dogs”. Jonson pleaded guilty and was released after a short period of time by the benefit of clergy (Cambridge Companion 4-2). Consequently, he converted to the Church of Rome to which he adhered for twelve years. His interest in Catholic...