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ANTHONY MUNDAY (c.1553-1633)

The following biography is reprinted from Characteristics of English Poets from Chaucer to Shirley. William Minto. London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1885.

Anthony Munday is known to have been employed in the writing of fourteen plays between 1597 and 1603, and he was probably a constant writer for the stage for many years before that date. When quite a youth he seems to have been seized with a passion for travel, and to have run away from his father's with as much money as he could scrape together, and crossed the Channel strange countries for to see. He and his companion were robbed on their way through France, and after some adventures were persuaded to join the English Seminary in Rome. After a time he made his way back to England, and published an account of his experiences under the title The English Roman Life, "discoursing the lives of such Englishmen as by secret escape leave their own country to live in Rome under the servile yoke of the Pope's government." This was in 1582, and he would seem to have now made his living by translating from French and Italian, and composing rhymed plays. A rhymed play of his--Fidele and Fortunatus, was entered on the Stationers' Books in 1584. The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, which was published in 1601, is supposed to have been originally and chiefly the work of Munday, modified by Chettle. Later in life, he seems to have abandoned the stage for the counter: he devised and wrote the Lord Mayor's pageant in 1605, entitling it--The Triumphs of Reunited Britannia, and is described on the title-page as "citizen and draper." He was several times employed after this to write these pageants, and was driven to complain of the difficulty of finding new subjects. The Golden Fleece being the drapers' coat of arms, he twice made use of the voyage of the Argo: and when the Mayor happened to be a fishmonger, he treated the citizens to Chrysanaleia, or the Golden Fishing, to signify the close alliance between the Fishmongers and the Goldsmiths.

There is nothing in Munday's compositions above the tamest mediocrity, and he is worth mentioning only as a specimen of the literary journeyman of the time.

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