Next up – The Faerie Queene

I’m reading this or two reasons— I already have a copy, which I picked up for 10p, and because it’s on the list of Publisher’s Weekly’s hardest books, and I like a challenge.

It is an allegorical work that stars Queen Betty I, and although there isn’t any proof she read it, she liked the fact that someone was big-upping her and making her a heroin in a crazy fantasy poem so much, that she gave Spenser a £50 a year pension.


I also like the fact Edmund Spenser looked like the love child of Edmund Blackadder and Tintin.


And while I’m on the subject, Ben Johnson looked like Tom Baker, the fourth Doctor.

by Abraham van Blyenberch, oil on canvas, circa 1617


Also, if you are able to get BBC iPlayer, you can see a program on it, as part of the Secret Life Of Books series on BBC 4, from which I learned Edmund Spenser got himself into trouble by writing satirical poems about politicians and had to move to Ireland, which was a war-torn place at the time. He was later able to come home, but then went and did the same thing again, and had to leave, again.

The book is huge, even though he only managed to write six of the proposed twelve books. I might have to give up on my version and get the Penguin one at some point, as mine is a slightly water damaged 1930s edition, condensed in the same evil way some complete works of Shakespeare are, and feels like a throw-back to when paper was expensive, so let’s write everything mouse-sized.