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)1552Birth of Sir Walter Raleigh
1553Death of Edward VI; Mary crowned.
1554Mary marries Philip of Spain.
1558Death of Mary; Elizabeth crowned.
1560Charles IX, king of France.
1568Council of Trent.
Visions of Bellay, published1569
Sonnets of Petrarch, published1569
Enters Pembroke Hall, Cambridge1569
1572Gregory XIII, Pope of Rome.
1572Massacre of St. Batholomew.
1574Henry III, king of France.
Received M.A., leaves Cambridge1576Rudolph II, emperor.
Leaves Lancashire1578Elizabeth aids the Netherlands.
Visits Lord Leicester1579
The Shepheards Calender1579
Goes to Ireland1580Massacre of Smerwick.
1581Tasso’s Jersalem Delivered.
Lord Grey’s return to England1582
1584Assassination of William the Silent.
1585Sixtus V, Pope. Drake’s voyage.
1585Leicester goes to the Netherlands.
1586Death of Sir Philip Sidney.
First marriage (before)1587Execution of Mary Queen of Scots.
Clerk to the Council of Munster1588Defeat of Spanish Armada. Death of Leicester.
Visits England with Raleigh1589Assassination of Henry III; Henry IV crowned.
The Faerie Queene, Books I, II, III1590Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost.
Mother Hubberds Tale, Tears of the Muses, Ruines of Time, Daphnaida, The Visions1591Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, Henry VI.
1591Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, trans.
1593Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.
1593Richard III.
Second marriage1594Shakespeare’s Richard II
Colin Clout’s Come Home Again1595Shakespeare’s King John.
Amoretti, Epithalamion, Hymns1595Johnston’s Seven Champions of Christendom.
Astrophel, Prothalamion1596Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.
The Faerie Queene, Books I-VI1596Ben Jonson’s Every Man in his Humour.
Vision of the Present State of Ireland1598Edict of Nantes, Philip III crowned.
Death of Spenser1599Revolt 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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