Thomas Lodge was born in West Ham in 1558, the second son of Sir Thomas Lodge, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1562. He was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and Trinity College, Oxford, graduating BA in 1577 and MA in 1581. In the interim he entered Lincoln’s Inn to study law in 1578 but took up literature against his family’s wishes.
His first known work was a pamphlet, written anonymously, Defense of Poetry, Music and Stage Plays, which was banned. This was followed in 1584 by The Delectable History of Forbonius and Prisceria, a love pamphlet in prose and verse, and Alarum Against Usurers, a warning against money lenders. In 1589 he published a volume of poems, Scillaes Metamorphosis, Enterlaced with the Unfortunate Love of Glaucus. In 1591 he wrote a historical romance, The History of Robert, Duke of Normandy, surnamed Robert The Devil.
In 1591 he went to sea, visiting the Canary Islands and Brazil, and during the voyage composed the prose tale Rosalynde, Euphues Golden Legacie, which Shakespeare used as his basis for As You Like It. He also wrote Catharos Diogenes in His Singularity, on the immorality of Athens. In 1593 he published Phillis, a volume of sonnets, which contains some of his best poetry. In 1594 he also tried his hand at playwriting with two plays, A Looking Glass for London and England and The Wounds of Civil War. Two years later he published A Marguerite for America, a historical romance interspersed with lyrics.
Thomas Lodge married twice, firstly to Joan with whom he had a daughter, and after her death Jane Aldred, the widow of a Catholic agent, in 1584. He himself converted to Catholicism in 1597. He then seems to have turned his back on writing and in 1598 he moved to Avignon to study to become a doctor, obtaining his MD from Oxford in 1602. He left England for Brussels in 1606 to escape persecution after the failed Gunpowder Plot and practised medicine there. He returned to England a few years later with assistance from the English ambassador to Paris and continued to work as a doctor in London. He died in 1625 in London.
Thomas Lodge: Rosalynd
Brian Nellist (Editor)