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SIDNEY, Philip, Sir [1554-1586] -- English cavalier poet, soldier and courtier

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Eldest son of ¤Sir Henry Sidney; nephew of ¤Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. On Grand Tour of Europe (1572-75); appointed cupbearer to ¤Queen Elizabeth (1576); ambassador to Emperor Rudolf and to Prince of Orange (1577). Saw much of Spenser (from 1578) and received dedication of The Shepheards Calendar (1579); wrote masque Lady of May, with which his uncle Leicester entertained the queen (1578). Fell out of favor of Queen Elizabeth after remonstrating against her proposed marriage with the duc d'Alençon; retired to Wilton, home of his sister ¤Mary, Countess of Pembroke. For amusement of Mary wrote (~1580) pastoral romance The Arcadia, the most important prose fiction of 16th-century England; began (1584) revision of Arcadia but left it incomplete. Addressed to Penelope Devereaux impassioned sonnets later published (1591) as Astrophel and Stella; wrote (~1582, pub. 1595) The Defense of Poesie (also pub. 1595 as An Apology for Poetrie), greatest example of Elizabethan literary criticism. M.P. (1581, 1584-85); m. (1583) Frances, daughter of Sir Francis Walsingham. With uncle Earl of Warwick appointed joint master of the ordinance (1585); sent with Leicester to support the Dutch against Spain (1585); made governor of Flushing (1585); with Prince Maurice made successful raid on Axel (1586); in attack of Zutphen (1586) wounded in thigh and died 26 days later after at Arnhem.

Considered the ideal gentleman of his age and the finest English prose writer of his generation. MWBD  -30-
 

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