Biography of John Lyly was an English writer, poet, and dramatist. He was best known for his books Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and His England (1580).
John Lyly was born in 1554 in Kent, England to Peter Lyly and Jane Burgh. He was the first of eight children. At the age of sixteen, Lyly attends Magdalen College in Oxford. He got his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in 1573 and 1575. Throughout his Master’s studies, Lyly gamines fame for his first two prose publications. They are Euphues: The Anatomy of Wit (1578) and Euphues and His England (1580).
These famous fictional books were about the story of Greek Scholar named Euphues. In the prose, the adventures of Euphues have been described. It was written in the expository style. His exact arrangement and selections of words, frequent use of similes drawn from classical mythology, and his artificial and excessively elegant prose came to be known as “Euphuism” which though short-lived, quickly caught among-est writers.
In the 1580s, Lyly began to write comedies and plays. In 1583, he gained control of the Black fairs Theater. He used to threat to produce his earliest plays like Compass and Sappho and Phao. Except for The Women in the Moon (1597), all his comedies were done by the company the Children of Paul. The company was favored by Queen Elizabeth. That time, eight of Lyly’s plays were performed before the Queen. Most of his plays were written in such a way that they were only performed by male actors.
Lyly’s Endymion out of all other prose was seen as a masterpiece. Lyly’s plays were known as the stepping stone to improving English dramas. His plots were based on traditional belief and legends of the time. He had beauty and wit in his dialogues.
Lyly polished his writing skills with the help of Oxford. His work began to be credited as soon as he stated work with Oxford. He was recognized as the ‘Father of English Comedy’. His writing was a combination of old humor with the modern genre. Lyly was always interested in classical characters.
He often used Greek Legends as an inspiration for his books. He usually mixed prose and verse in his writing. The phrase “All is fair in love and war” was associated with Lyly’s Euphues. It is now a staple in the literary and dramatic society of the modern period.
Lyly carefully combined his writing style with William Shakespeare’s literary art, skills and wit. Lyly’s most successful years were 1584 to 1601. He wrote most of his plays and comedies during this period. Even William Shakespeare’s plays, mainly the romantic comedies were influenced by Lyly’s work. His Love’s Metamorphosis (1601) was an important source for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
In 2007, primavera Productions in London staged the reading of Lyly’s Gallathea, which was later linked to Shakespeare’s plays.
Lyly also produced an “entertainment” (a show that combined elements of masque and drama) for Queen Elizabeth. The most famous one was The Entertainment at Mitcham performed in 1598. Lyly wrote the dialogue for the entire show. He became a member of the parliament in 1580, of Aylesbury in 1593, of Appleby in 1597, and for a second time of Aylesbury in 1601.
Lyly continued to wrote throughout his life. Lyly’s popularity faded with the rise of the great writers of the time like Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. He had to request for financial support from Queen Elizabeth. However, he did not get the support lost his motivation to write and went unnoticed. After 1590, he lost his motivation to write and his influence as a writer also decreased.
Lyly died in November 1606 in London, England. He died poor and neglected in the early part of James I’s reign. There were some pretty records of his family life and some letters, which explained how he was overlooked later in life.
He was a tremendous English writer and playwright during the Elizabeth period. His innovative ways in English prose and theater were an inspiration for a generation of younger playwrights like Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. He left a lasting impression on the English language and literature.