Ben Jonson

Benjamin "Ben" Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – c. 16 August 1637)[2] was an English playwright and poet. Jonson's artistry exerted a lasting influence upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours; he is best known for the satirical plays Every Man in His Humour[3] (1598), Volpone, or The Fox (c. 1606), The Alchemist (1610) and Bartholomew Fair (1614) and for his lyric and epigrammatic poetry. "He is generally regarded as the second most important English dramatist, after William Shakespeare, during the reign of James I."[4]

Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson (c. 1617), by Abraham Blyenberch; oil on canvas painting at the National Portrait Gallery, London
BornBenjamin Jonson
c. 11 June 1572
Westminster, England[citation needed]
Diedc. 16 August 1637 (aged 65)
London,[1] England
OccupationPlaywright, poet
LanguageEarly Modern English
Alma materWestminster School
Periodbefore 1597–1637
Literary movementEnglish Renaissance
SpouseAnn Lewis

Jonson was a classically educated, well-read and cultured man of the English Renaissance with an appetite for controversy (personal and political, artistic and intellectual) whose cultural influence was of unparalleled breadth upon the playwrights and the poets of the Jacobean era (1603–1625) and of the Caroline era (1625–1642).[5][6]

His ancestors spelled the family name with a letter "t" (Johnstone or Johnstoun). While the spelling had eventually changed to the more common "Johnson", the playwright's own particular preference became "Jonson".[7]

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