DANIEL, Samuel

(1563-1619)
Samuel Daniel was a successful and respected poet and playwright. He influ­enced the development of several genres, including sonnets, tragedies, and prose history. Daniel, the son of a music master, entered Magdalen Hall of Oxford University at age nineteen. Before receiving his degree, Daniel left Oxford and eventually became the tutor for William Herbert, the son of Mary Sidney,* the countess of Pembroke. Daniel secured the patronage of the countess, and she was the most influential of his supporters. Other patrons who supported Daniel were Fulke Greville, a courtier and poet, and Charles Blount, earl of Devonshire.
Delia (1592), a collection of sonnets distinguished for their beauty and purity of language rather than their passion, was dedicated to the countess of Pembroke, although there is no indication that Daniel knew her when he composed the sonnets. Cleopatra (1594), a neoclassic tragedy, was written in response to the countess of Pembroke's drama Antonie. There is speculation that Daniel began writing tragedies due to influence from within the countess's literary circle.
With the accession of James I* to the English throne, Daniel wrote Panegyric Congratulatoire (1603) with the intention of gaining favor with the new ruler. Daniel competed with Ben Jonson* and Thomas Campion* to have his masques performed at court. The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses (1604) and Tethys' Festival (1610) were among the masques written for Queen Anne, King James's consort. In 1604 Daniel was appointed as licenser for the Children of the Queen's Revels, but left this position in April 1605. It is believed that Daniel resigned due to the production of his play Philotas (1604), which contained possible allusions to the earl of Essex, a controversial courtier executed as a traitor in 1601. Daniel was called before the Privy Council and continued to deny any references to the earl of Essex in his play. Daniel's major prose work, Defense of Ryme (1603), was a treatise written in response to Thomas Campion's Observations in the Art of English Poesie, which attacked the literary convention of rhyming. The Civil Wars (1594-1609), Dan­iel's famed epic poem, was written in installments and depicted the Wars of the Roses. During the last years of his life Daniel studied history, publishing before his death The History of England (1618), a prose chronicle tracing England's history from the Romans to Edward III.
Bibliography
J. Rees, Samuel Daniel, 1964.
Barbara Boyle

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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