Sir Edward Dyer - Encyclopedia




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SIR EDWARD DYER (d. 1607), English courtier and poet, son of Sir Thomas Dyer, Kt., was born at Sharpham Park, Somersetshire. He was educated, according to Anthony a Wood, either at Balliol College or at Broadgates Hall, Oxford. He left the university without taking a degree, and after some time spent abroad appeared at Queen Elizabeth's court. His first patron was the earl of Leicester, who seems to have thought of putting him forward as a rival to Sir Christopher Hatton in the queen's favour. He is mentioned by Gabriel Harvey with Sidney as one of the ornaments of the court. Sidney in his will desired that his books should be divided between Fulke Greville (Lord Brooke) and Dyer. He was employed by Elizabeth on a mission (1584) to the Low Countries, and in 1589 was sent to Denmark. In a commission to inquire into manors unjustly alienated from the crown in the west country he did not altogether please the queen, but he received a grant of some forfeited lands in Somerset in 1588. He was knighted and made chancellor of the order of the Garter in 1596. William Oldys says of him that he "would not stoop to fawn," and some of his verses seem to show that the exigencies of life at court oppressed him. He was buried at St Saviour's, Southwark, on the 11th of May 1607. Wood says that many esteemed him to be a Rosicrucian, and that he was a firm believer in alchemy. He had a great reputation as a poet among his contemporaries, but very little of his work has survived. Puttenham in the Arte of English Poesie speaks of "Maister Edward Dyar, for Elegie most sweete, solempne, and of high conceit." One of the poems universally accepted as his is "My Mynde to me a kingdome is." Among the poems in England's Helicon (1600),(1600), signed S.E.D., and included in Dr A. B. Grosart's collection of Dyer's works (Miscellanies of the Fuller Worthies Library, vol. iv., 1876) is the charming pastoral "My Phillis hath the morninge sunne," but this comes from the Phillis of Thomas Lodge. Grosart also prints a prose tract entitled The Prayse of Nothing (1585). The Sixe Idillia from Theocritus, reckoned by J. P. Collier among Dyer's works, were dedicated to, not written by, him.

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