Spenser Timeline

What happened during the lifetime of Edmund Spenser, the author of The Faerie Queene? Learn more about this writer and put his life in context with the Spenser timeline below. This chronological table of events covers the years from Spenser’s birth in 1552 to his death in 1599.

Una and the Lion from Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene- {{PD-US}} – published in the US before 1923 and public domain in the US.

Una and the Lion by Briton Rivière from Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene

A Timeline of the Life of Edmund Spenser

By Dr. George Armstrong Wauchope, Professor of English, South Carolina College

Birth of Edmund Spenser (about) 1552 Birth of Sir Walter Raleigh
1553 Death of Edward VI; Mary crowned.
1554 Mary marries Philip of Spain.
1558 Death of Mary; Elizabeth crowned.
1560 Charles IX, king of France.
1568 Council of Trent.
Visions of Bellay, published 1569
Sonnets of Petrarch, published 1569
Enters Pembroke Hall, Cambridge 1569
1572 Gregory XIII, Pope of Rome.
1572 Massacre of St. Batholomew.
1574 Henry III, king of France.
Received M.A., leaves Cambridge 1576 Rudolph II, emperor.
Leaves Lancashire 1578 Elizabeth aids the Netherlands.
Visits Lord Leicester 1579
The Shepheards Calender 1579
Goes to Ireland 1580 Massacre of Smerwick.
1581 Tasso’s Jersalem Delivered.
Lord Grey’s return to England 1582
1584 Assassination of William the Silent.
1585 Sixtus V, Pope. Drake’s voyage.
1585 Leicester goes to the Netherlands.
1586 Death of Sir Philip Sidney.
First marriage (before) 1587 Execution of Mary Queen of Scots.
Clerk to the Council of Munster 1588 Defeat of Spanish Armada. Death of Leicester.
Visits England with Raleigh 1589 Assassination of Henry III; Henry IV crowned.
The Faerie Queene, Books I, II, III 1590 Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost.
Mother Hubberds Tale, Tears of the Muses, Ruines of Time, Daphnaida, The Visions 1591 Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, Henry VI.
1591 Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, trans.
1593 Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
1593 Richard III.
Second marriage 1594 Shakespeare’s Richard II
Colin Clout’s Come Home Again 1595 Shakespeare’s King John.
Amoretti, Epithalamion, Hymns 1595 Johnston’s Seven Champions of Christendom.
Astrophel, Prothalamion 1596 Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.
The Faerie Queene, Books I-VI 1596 Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour.
Vision of the Present State of Ireland 1598 Edict of Nantes, Philip III crowned.
Death of Spenser 1599 Revolt of Irish. Expedition of Essex to Ireland.


This Spenser timeline comes from the introduction to Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, Book 1 (New York: MacMillan, 1921).


More Faerie Queene resources

For a more in-depth look at Spenser’s incredibly influential life and work, you can read the Edmund Spenser Biography.


When will you read Edmund Spenser’s writing in Excellence in Literature?

E4.3 Focus text: The Faerie Queene (Book 1) and the “Letter to Raleigh”


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