20 Pages


James VI and I was the most writerly of British monarchs. He produced original poetry, as well as translation and a treatise on poetics; works on witchcraft and tobacco; meditations and commentaries on the Scriptures; a manual of kingship, works of political theory and, of course, speeches to parliament. He presided over a court culture in both Scotland, where his so-called ‘Castalian band’ of poets hoped to emulate the French Pleiade, and in England, where he commissioned sermons, masques and plays for court performance. He was the patron of Shakespeare, Jonson, Donne and the translators of the ‘Authorized Version’ of the Bible, surely the greatest concentration of literary talent ever to enjoy royal sponsorship in England. His own 1616 Folio Workes (actually published in 1617) appeared a few months after his court poet Ben Jonson’s First Folio.