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Giles Fletcher The Elder

(1548 - 1611 / Watford, Hertfordshire)

Biography of Giles Fletcher The Elder

Giles Fletcher, the Elder was an English poet and diplomat, member of the English Parliament.

Giles Fletcher was the son of Richard Fletcher, vicar of Bishop's Stortford. He spent his early life at Cranbrook before entering Eton College about 1561. From there, Fletcher continued his education at King's College, Cambridge, where he was appointed a fellow in 1568 and gained his B.A. in the academic year 1569-70.

Studying Greek and poetry, Fletcher contributed to the translation of several of Demosthenes' orations. On 22 March 1572, Fletcher became a lecturer in King's and held this position until March the following year, until he became a lecturer in Greek, a position which he held until Michaelmas term 1579. Continually rising within the academia, Fletcher rose to dean of arts, the highest position he was to attain at Kings, in 1580-81.
However, this would not last long, for he decided to marry, forcing him to give up his fellowship. On 16 January, in his father's church, he married Joan Sheafe. Returning to Cambridge later, he received his Doctor of Civil Law degree. After attaining his law degree, the family settled back in Cranbrook, where once again the family was united. On 8 April 1582, Giles and Joan's first child, Phineas Fletcher, was baptized. During the same year, Giles was made chancellor of the diocese of Sussex.

In 1584, Fletcher was elected to the parliament which began on 23 November, for Winchelsea, one of the Cinque Ports. It was at this point that the Fletchers would permanently call London home. During his stint in Parliament, Fletcher served on three committees. In 1588 he was an ambassador to Russia to reestablish the treaty with tsar Feodor I of Russia. Fletcher published a treatise, Of the Russe Common Wealth (1591). The treaty to be reestablished was primarily concerning the English trade, but before he departed Queen Elizabeth made him a Master of Requests. The account of Russia Fletcher portrayed gives a vivid description into the Russian world pre-1600.

He is best known for his sonnet Licia. He is the father of the poet Giles Fletcher Junior although the two have commonly been confused as the other.

Giles Fletcher The Elder's Works:

Licia

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Licia Sonnets 27

The crystal stream wherein my love did swim,
Melted in tears as partners of my woe;
Her shine was such as did the fountain dim,
The pearl-like fountain whiter than the snow;
Then like perfume, resolvéd with a heat,
The fountain smoked, as if it thought to burn;
A wonder strange to see the cold so great,
And yet the fountain into smoke to turn.
I searched the cause, and found it to be this:

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