BARCLAY, Alexander

(c. 1475-1552)
Alexander Barclay was a humanist, a priest, a poet, and a translator. Tradition holds that he was born in Scotland, although scholars propose either Glouces­tershire or Lincoln. He was ordained in Exeter as deacon and priest in 1508. During this period he resided at the College of St. Mary, Ottery. By 1515 Barclay had taken vows at the Benedictine monastery of Ely. Barclay offers topical allusions to this monastery in his Ship of Fools and in his eclogues.
Barclay's continued project of translating and publishing the works of con­tinental humanists remains his most important work. He is especially known for his translation of Das Narrenschiff, written by Sebastian Brant and translated into Latin by Jakob Locher. Barclay's version, The Ship of Fools, was first printed in 1509. His eclogues, based on those by Baptista Spagnoli of Mantua and by Aeneas Silvius (later Pope Pius II) were first published in 1518. Other translations include The Castle of Labor (1505), from Pierre Gringore's Le chas-teau de labour; The Life of St. George (1515), from Baptista Spagnoli of Man­tua's Georgius; The Mirror of Good Manners (1518), from Dominicus Mancinus's Libellus de quattuor virtutibus; and The Battle of Jurgith (1522), from Sallust's Bellum Jugurthinum. Barclay published instructions for writing and speaking French (1521) and, according to John Bale's* Catalogus, wrote or translated lives of St. Catherine, St. Margaret, and St. Ethelreda, all of which have been lost.
W. Nelson, "Introduction," in The Life of St. George, by A. Barclay, 1955.
Karen Nelson

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

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  • Barclay, Alexander — ▪ English poet born c. 1476 died June 10, 1552, Croydon, Surrey, Eng.  poet who won contemporary fame chiefly for his adaptation of a popular German satire, Das Narrenschiff, by Sebastian Brant, which he called The Shyp of Folys of the Worlde… …   Universalium

  • Barclay, Alexander — (?1475 1552)    Barclay was chaplain at the College of St. Mary Ottery, Devon, then a Benedictine monk at Elywhere he probably wrote his eclogues. Later he became a Franciscan friar of Canterbury, and in 1552, rector of All Hallows, London. His… …   British and Irish poets

  • Barclay, Alexander — (1475? 1552)    Poet, probably of Scottish birth, was a priest in England. He is remembered for his satirical poem, The Ship of Fools (1509), partly a translation, which is of interest as throwing light on the manners and customs of the times to… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

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